Myanmar leader to visit Britain for reform talks

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 21, 2012 9:09 AM
Myanmar leader to visit Britain for reform talks
By Matt FalloonLONDON (Reuters) - Myanmar President Thein Sein will come to London in the coming months to hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, as the once pariah Asian state edges its way back into the international fold.The announcement on Thursday came hours before Cameron was due to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's Nobel laureate who spent 15 years under house arrest as she fought to bring democracy to her country.Thein Sein is head of a quasi-civilian government which in 2010 replaced a military junta he was part of. He has sought to end decades of international isolation by reforming Myanmar's once-oppressive political system and struggling economy."The prime minister has invited President Thein Sein," a spokeswoman for Cameron told reporters."He is due to visit the UK in the coming months to continue the discussions they began when the prime minister was in Burma in April. Those discussions obviously focused on further reform."Britain still calls its former colony Burma.After meeting Cameron, Suu Kyi will address both houses of parliament on Thursday as part of a high-profile and emotional return to Britain, where she lived with her family for many years before she returned home in 1988 to care for her mother and took up her fight for democracy.When she was placed under house by the military dictatorship, her struggle was catapulted on to the world stage, and she was released last year as part of Sein's political reforms."The progress we have seen in Burma is testament to the bravery and vision shown by Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein. They have embarked on a process of reform that could bring genuine democracy to Burma," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday."The fact that Aung San Suu Kyi now feels able to leave Burma and return to the UK for the first time since 1988 is a signal to the world of how much the situation in Burma has changed."Cameron's visit to Myanmar in April, the first by a Western leader in decades, sent a strong signal that the international community was prepared to welcome the Southeast Asian nation back in from the cold.Sein has surprised Western leaders with his appetite for reform ahead of elections in 2015. On Tuesday, he announced a second wave of measures for the economy, including tentative privatization and a law on the minimum wage.(Reporting by Matt Falloon; Editing by Pravin Char)