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Japanese foreign minister heads to Myanmar

Last Updated: Sunday, December 25, 2011 - 13:21

Tokyo: Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro
Gemba on Sunday left for Myanmar, in the latest high-profile
diplomatic trip looking to encourage reforms in the isolated
nation, Tokyo`s public broadcaster reported.

Gemba`s visit, the first by a Japanese foreign minister
since 2002, comes as Tokyo considers resuming official
development aid as part of international efforts to engage
Myanmar`s new military-backed civilian government.

Gemba plans to meet with President Thein Sein and other
top officials, and also democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi,
Kyodo News reported citing an unnamed government source.

Unlike major Western nations, Japan has maintained trade
ties and dialogue with Myanmar and warned that a hardline
approach could push Myanmar closer to neighbouring China, its
main political supporter and commercial partner.

Gemba is expected to propose negotiations on a bilateral
investment accord in his meetings with officials, Kyodo said.

Japan has continued to provide humanitarian and emergency
aid to the country, but halted regular economic assistance in
2003 following the arrest and subsequent detention of Suu Kyi.

Myanmar`s new nominally civilian government has rolled
out a series of reformist measures since it took office as the
former generals who dominate it have sought to reach out to
political opponents and the West.

Suu Kyi was freed in November 2010 from seven years of
house arrest, and has re-registered her previously banned
opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) as a political
party, clearing the way for her to take part in elections.

Hillary Clinton visited Myanmar earlier this month in the
first trip there by a US Secretary of State in more than 50


First Published: Sunday, December 25, 2011 - 13:21

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