Yangon: France`s Foreign Minister is due to meet democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Sunday during a historic visit to assess the Myanmar regime`s commitment to change after a string of dramatic reforms.
Alain Juppe, who arrived in Myanmar`s main city Yangon yesterday, is the highest level French diplomat to ever visit the military-dominated nation, long criticised by the West for
its human rights record.
He is scheduled to meet Suu Kyi at 11.30 am (0430 GMT)
at the lakeside mansion where she was held as a prisoner in
her own home for most of the past two decades before her
release by the regime in November 2010.
He will award the Nobel laureate with one of France`s
highest honours, Commander in the National Order of the Legion
d`Honneur, in recognition of her long struggle for democracy.
Tomorrow Juppe will hold talks in the capital
Naypyidaw with President Thein Sein, whose government is eager
to see the end of sanctions imposed on the regime by the
United States and the European Union since the late 1990s.
Juppe wants to encourage the government "to continue
and amplify" the reform process with steps towards human
rights, democracy and national reconciliation, his ministry
said last week.
He will also insist that parliamentary by-elections on
April 01 are held "in a manner consistent with democratic
practices" after a general election in November 2010 that was
denounced by the West as a sham.
After nearly five decades of outright military rule,
the junta was replaced in March last year by a
nominally-civilian government, still dominated by former