Aus praises Myanmar transition, gives $20 mn aid
Melbourne: Australia is all set to boost defence and trade ties with Myanmar as it pledged a 20 million dollar assistance to Yangon as part of its aid programme.
"There was 'much to do' in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, to improve human rights and national reconciliation," Prime Minister Julia Gillard was quoted as saying to Australian news agency.
"But we have been very admiring of the remarkable amount of progress . . . And we are optimistic of further progress," she said today.
Gillard also disclosed that a trade commissioner would also be posted to Yangon, the Burmese capital.
The announcement was made at a joint press conference with Burmese President Thein Sein.
Gillard praised the "extraordinary" progress towards democracy of Myanmar.
She said Australia would lift some restrictions on defence engagement and post a resident defence attach? to Burma.
But the arms embargo and other sanctions would remain for the time being, she said.
Thein said that he recognised human rights concerns but said that his country is making the "transition to peace".
"What we are undertaking has no precedent in modern times," Thein Sein said.
Australia set to provide an additional 20 million dollar over two years for the first phase of the new "Myanmar-Australia Partnership for Reform".
Thien visit is said to be the first by a Burmese leader to Australia since 1974.
My visit to Australia is one that I have looked forward to for a very long time," Thein Sein said adding "This is because I know that Australia and Myanmar are destined to be good partners and more importantly the people of Myanmar and Australia are destined to be good friends."
Sein also said that he's proud to be the first head of state to visit Australia from Myanmar since 1974.
"I hope that you appreciate that what we are undertaking has no equal in modern times," he said.
"This is not just a simple transition... But a transition from military rule to democratic rule."