Sunday, April 29, 2012

E.U. foreign policy chief visits Burma

Sunday, 29 April 2012 15:17 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) – European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton urged the Burmese government to continue its progress toward democracy.

Ashton also opened a new E.U. office in Rangoon to oversee the management of aid programs and to handle political matters.

E.U. foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton at a press conference at NLD headquarters in Rangoon on Saturday, April 28, 2012. Photo: Mizzima / Lynn Bo Bo

Aung San Suu Kyi, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Rangoon.

On Monday, Ashton will meet with President Thein Sein, the speaker of the Lower House Thura Shwe Mann and Railways Minister Aung Min, who heads up the government’s peacemaking team, on Monday in Naypyitaw.

On Monday, the E.U. suspended sanctions for one year, with the exception of an arms embargo, which was left in place.

“This is a process of change,” Ashton said during a joint press conference with Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon, according to Agence France Presse. “I hope we will see all the elements put in place so this will become an irreversible process that will only continue,” she added.

The E.U.'s role in the country will be to offer investment and expertise, particularly in remote rural areas, Ashton said. The new office in Rangoon will mostly oversee the management of aid programmes but will also have a political role.

An E.U. embargo on arms sales remains in place and the bloc has said that it still expects the unconditional release of remaining political prisoners and the removal of all restrictions placed on those already released.

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