Japan to ask Myanmar to join bilateral pact: Kyodo

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 24, 2011 11:09 PM
Japan to ask Myanmar to join bilateral pact: Kyodo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's foreign minister will suggest that Myanmar enter negotiations on a bilateral investment accord when he holds talks with the country's top officials next week, Kyodo News reported Sunday.

The talks would mark another step as Myanmar gradually reconnects with the rest of the world after decades of tight military rule.

A series of reforms have been initiated by President Thein Sein aimed at pushing for the lifting of decades of Western sanctions and attracting much-needed foreign investment in the country formerly known as Burma.

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba is traveling to Myanmar Sunday to meet his counterpart, Wunna Maung Lwin, as well as the president next week.

In Naypyitaw, Gemba will discuss the investment accord, which would promote cross-border investment and allow trade disputes to be settled under international frameworks, Kyodo said, citing a government source.

Gemba will also meet pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and will likely invite her to visit Japan in the near future, Kyodo said.

Gemba's visit is the first by a Japanese foreign minister in nine years.

In a landmark step, U.S. President Barack Obama decided last month to open the door to expanded ties, saying he saw potential for progress in a country until recently seen as an isolated military dictatorship firmly aligned with China.

That decision was followed soon after by a visit to Myanmar by U.S. Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton, during which Myanmar's new civilian government pledged to forge ahead with political reforms and re-engage with the global community.

(Reporting by Mari Saito)