Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague offered to lift sanctions on Myanmar in return for “bold steps” toward increased freedom and democracy.
The release of more than 250 political prisoners, greater media freedom and changes in the law to allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy to take part in elections mark a good start and need to be built upon, Hague told journalists in Yangon today, according to a transcript e- mailed by his office.
“If the country continues on this promising path, as we hope it will, we are ready to offer a new relationship based on friendship and prosperity,” Hague said. “We are ready to move towards a strong, positive and open relationship as reforms take place, and to respond bilaterally and through the EU. We will judge progress by actions and events and will respond in good faith to measures as they are taken.”
EU and U.S. sanctions in place for more than two decades have left Myanmar dependent on neighbors China, India and Thailand, which have poured more than $25 billion into ports, power plants, and oil and gas pipelines. The resource-rich southeast Asian country has been run since 1962 by a military regime that still exerts control through a new civilian government and Hague is the highest ranking U.K. official in half a century to visit.
Hague, who met with President Thein Sein, Foreign Minister Wanna Maung Lwin and Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann yesterday, held talks with Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders last night and this morning. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also visited Myanmar in November.
“The British Government and the British people have a strong commitment to the people of this country, as we have shown by our staunch support for democracy here over many years,” Hague said. “As we enter 2012 it is my hope that this year will come to be seen as a new dawn in the history of this nation.”
--Editors: James Hertling, Leon Mangasarian
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