Myanmar leader to visit Britain and France
Agence France-Presse in Yangon
Myanmar’s President Thein Sein will visit Britain and France next month, an official said on Friday, as the international community continues to embrace his nation’s democratic reforms.
Thein Sein will travel to up to four countries on his second trip to Europe in months, a government official said requesting anonymity.
“Our President Thein Sein will visit about three or four countries in mid July.... he will visit the UK and Paris in France for sure,” a Myanmar government official told AFP, adding detailed information of who will accompany him has not been released.
Myanmar’s leader visited several European countries in March - although not Britain or France - to drum up support for reforms that he has overseen since taking the presidency in 2011.
Those changes include freeing some political prisoners and holding by-elections which saw opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi take a seat in parliament.
The European Union on Wednesday readmitted Myanmar to its trade preference scheme, saying it wanted to support reform in the once pariah state through economic development.
Myanmar’s membership of the scheme was withdrawn in 1997 due to concerns over the use of forced labour under the then-military junta, but it was reinstated in response to an International Labour Organisation report that labour practices in Myanmar had improved.
The EU had already ditched most sanctions against the country, although an arms embargo remains.
Washington has also lifted most embargoes and foreign companies are now eager to enter the resource-rich nation, with its perceived frontier market of some 60 million potential consumers.
Thein Sein met US President Barack Obama in Washington last month, becoming the first Myanmar leader to do so for nearly half a century in a symbol of the end of his country’s diplomatic isolation.