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After India, UN chief to visit Myanmar later this week

April 24, 2012 14:45 IST
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to Myanmar later this week where he will meet pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"Myanmar is only at the beginning of its transition. Many challenges lie ahead. Many concerns have yet to be addressed. Yet I am convinced that we have an unprecedented opportunity to help the country advance toward a better future," Ban told the media on Monday.

Ban's trip to Myanmar will come after an official three-day visit to India for which he will depart on Wednesday.

Speaking after a meeting of his Group of Friends on Myanmar, the secretary general noted that there have been "encouraging" political and economic reforms over the past year-and-a-half in Myanmar, including recent landmark elections and important steps toward reconciliation.

"We have come to what I believe is a critical moment in Myanmar's transition. And now is the time for the international community to stand together at Myanmar's side," he stated.

"We have seen encouraging political and economic reforms over the past year-and-a-half... We see Myanmar re-opening to the world. Yet we also recognize: this fresh start is still fragile," he added.

The UN chief said he looked forward to personally congratulating Myanmar President Thein Sein and democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit. "Working together, they have come far," he said. "Working together, I am confident that they will go further still," he said.

"And together, we will explore the many tangible and practical ways in which the UN can help."

Ban welcomed the "positive" international response to Myanmar so far, including the suspension of sanctions announced by the European Union and similar steps announced earlier by the United States and others.

"We need to see more such progress, more international support for Mynamar's efforts to reform and bring about democratic change," he said.

The visit to Myanmar, at the invitation of President Thein Sein, will be the third for Ban since he became the UN secretary general in 1997.

For Rediff Realtime News on UN chief's India visit, click here!


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