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Australia significantly increases aid to Burma

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said his country will double aid to Burma by 2015, as he ended his three-day visit on Friday.

Burmese President Thein Sein and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr meet in Naypyitaw. Photo: President websiteAfter meeting with President Thein Sein in Naypyitaw on Thursday, the Australian government said aid would double to US$ 98.5 million. In addition, it agreed to remove all economic sanctions except an arms embargo.

In April, Australia eased travel and financial restrictions on about 260 Burmese nationals, including President Thein Sein.

“In meetings over the past two days, I've gained a first-hand appreciation of the reform effort under way,” Carr said in a statement. “The point has been reached where lifting sanctions is the best way to promote further progress.” Sanctions would be reinstated if the need arose, the statement said.

Australia will continue to support Burma in economic and social development, he said.

Foreign aid to the country will increase by 30 per cent next year to help provide access to education and health care.

Carr and Thein Sein discussed development efforts in the sectors of education, health, human resources, maintenance of ancient cultural heritage, the peace process and assistance for regions where peace has been achieved.

The two countries also discussed cooperation in tourism, investment in mining, upgrading of technology and strengthening of ties between their militaries, sources said.

On Wednesday, Carr met with Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her residence in Rangoon, and she welcomed Australia's decision to ease sanctions against her country.

Carr invited Suu Kyi to visit Australia and she accepted, saying she will visit the country in 2013.

Carr ended his three-day mission to Burma on Friday.

Most western countries have lifted or eased sanctions following the election of a military-backed nominally civilian government in November 2010 that ended decades of military rule.

In April, the EU agreed to suspend most sanctions against Burma for a year but retained its arms embargo.

Last month, the U.S. relaxed restrictions on investments and named Derek Mitchell, the State Department's coordinator for Burma policy, as the first ambassador to the country in 22 years.
Last Updated ( Friday, 08 June 2012 14:11 )  

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