Sunday, April 22, 2012

Japan forgives Burma debt; pledges $7.4 billion to Mekong region

Sunday, 22 April 2012 14:56 Mizzima News

Japan has pledged $7.4 billion in development aid to five Southeast Asia nations in an effort to promote cooperation with countries in the Mekong region.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, left, and Burmese President Thein Sein shake hands after a bilateral meeting at the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Summit in Tokyo on Saturday, April 21, 2012. Japan pledged US$ 7.4 billion in aid over the next three years to help five Mekong states, in an attempt at fostering development in a resource-rich region. Photo: AFP

Also Saturday, Japan said it will forgive $3.7 billion of Burma's debt and resume aid as a way to support the country's democratic and economic reforms.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced the pledge at a Japan-Mekong summit in Tokyo on Saturday, after meeting with leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.

He said the stability and development of East Asia is not possible without the stability and development of the Mekong region.

China has also tried to gain influence in the region by pouring aid and investment into Mekong countries.

Burma's government was run by the military for decades.  But since taking office a year ago, Burmese President Thein Sein has enacted a series of democratic reforms, including greater press freedom and the release of many political prisoners.

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