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Junta lobbies hard on international fora


New Delhi (Mizzima) - Burma’s state-owned newspaper New Light of Myanmar on Wednesday reported the return of Foreign Minister Nyan Win from Denmark after attending the UN Climate Change Conference.

The newspaper said Nyan Win, besides delivering a speech at the conference, also met Foreign Ministers of the European Union led by the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and hosted by Danish Foreign Minister Per-Stig Moller at the sidelines of the Copenhagen Conference.

In a press statement, the EU said during the meeting, also attended by the EU special envoy to Burma Mr. Piero Fassino, European Union Foreign Ministers reiterated their willingness to continue a dialogue aimed at substantial improvements towards a transition to democracy and respect of human rights in Burma.

The ministers also told Nyan Win that “the elections in 2010 are an important opportunity for allowing inclusiveness and showing serious progress on national reconciliation, which is necessary to address the political and socio-economic problems facing Burma/Myanmar.”

The ministers also urged the Burmese military junta to take substantive steps towards free and fair elections.

The report about Nyan Win’s December 16 to 18 trip to Denmark, which came after a week, is among the many stories that the Burmese junta’s mouthpiece newspaper is reporting relating to activities of junta officials.

The English version of the newspaper, which usually carries stories of the military general’s development work, has for the past few weeks been carrying reports of foreign officials including a few heads of states, and deputies visiting the pariah state.

On Thursday, the newspaper reported the visit of a delegation led by Mr Li Chao, Chairman of the Central China Power Grid International Economic & Trade Co Ltd, and their meeting with Burmese Minister for Electrical Power (2) Maj-Gen Khin Maung Myint.

On Wednesday, the newspaper reported the visit of Japanese Deputy Minister for Economics, Trade and Industry Mr. Hiroyuki Ishige and his meeting with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein.

On Tuesday, the newspaper reported the visit by Chang Zhenming, Chairman and President of CTTIC Group of China and his meeting with Burmese Minister for Transport Maj-Gen Thein Swe.

Monday’s newspaper was filled with the visit of Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping and his meetings with Burmese military supremo Snr. Gen Than Shwe, and Vice Snr Gen Maung Aye.  

While most of the visiting officials are not heads of states and do not carry significant weight, the fact that many foreign officials are visiting the country, which is under Western sanctions, is  significant, a Burmese analyst said.

Win Min, a Burmese analyst based in Thailand, said lately more countries are interested in visiting and dealing with the Burmese junta, and the new United States policy on the regime could be a factor contributing to the change.

“The US’s new policy on engagement with Burma (while maintaining the sanctions) may also partly encourage other country representatives to visit,” Win Min added.

The US in September announced a new policy on Burma’s military regime. Under the new policy, the US is willing to directly engage with the junta, while existing sanctions would remain.

As a first step in US-Junta relations, the Assistant Foreign Secretary Kurt Campbell led delegation in November visited Naypyidaw and held talks with junta supremo Snr. Gen Than Shwe.

“I think it shows that many countries want to see if there can be an impact from their visits to open up the election process, while some countries may also want to secure their business interests before the elections,” Win Min said.

He said, as the Nobel Prize Winning economist Joseph Stiglitz concluded a visit to Burma, during which he was able to advise the Burmese generals on economic reforms, Japan may also be interested in checking out the possibilities a more open economy.

Win Min added that the visits by foreign officials could indicate that the junta has been working hard to gain international support for their roadmap, of which the fifth step is the general elections slated for 2010.

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 April 2010 16:52 )  

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