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UN chief’s Myanmar visit greatly enhances Myanmar-UN relations

YANGON, May 1 (Xinhua) — Relations between Myanmar and the United Nations have been greatly enhanced through the third official visit to Myanmar of UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon which ended on Tuesday.

The visit of Ban, UN Secretary-General, was highlighted by his gathering with Myanmar President U Thein Sein and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time and the trip was also signified by his first historic speech in Myanmar’s parliament as a foreign dignitary.

Meeting with U Thein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw, Ban said his visit is to encourage progress of Myanmar’s transition to democracy and UN will normalize its operation in the country at full capacity as soon as possible.

Ban extended UN’s assistance in technology, managing and financial sectors for taking the population census in Myanmar in 2014, the first since 1983, in promoting relations between Myanmar and international community in dealing with trade and business sectors and in elimination of opium cultivation through UN Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC).

Ban expressed welcome to the government’s efforts for national reconciliation, saying that the UN would help in clearing land mines and would create opportunities for the UN and INGOs to be able to provide humanitarian aid to conflict areas.

While also welcoming the establishment of Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission, Ban hoped for full cooperation with the UNHCR, pledging UN’s technical assistance to Myanmar.

He invited U Thein Sein to attend the UN General Assembly in September.

U Thein Sein asked Ban to urge the European Union (EU) to fully lift its sanctions on Myanmar instead of suspension while most countries had already done so.

He outlined two processes for peace and stability at home, namely political stability and elimination of internal conflict.

Under the first process, U Thein Sein said the government is keeping in relations with all political parties to establish an inclusive political process and had reached a stage that the government and the NLD could work together, vowing that the government would continue its efforts to enable practice of democratic principles and freedom correctly.

U Thein Sein stressed that the government is hopeful of making peace with the ethnic Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) as the peace making process is going on despite differences in some facts.

Mentioning that it has reached a stage to work together with 10 armed groups out of 11 for ceasefire in the peace process, he expects that all ethnic organizations could work together with the government to sign final eternal peace agreements at the parliament.

In his speech in the parliament, Ban said he has, in his capacity, always sought to help Myanmar open once again to the wider world, working for constructive engagement to help advance peace, democracy and development and mobilize international support.

He called on the international community to even go further in lifting, easing and suspending trade restrictions and other sanctions on Myanmar.

“The dramatic changes sweeping Myanmar has inspired the world,” he underlined.

He commends U Thein Sein for his vision, leadership and courage to put Myanmar on the path of change, while saluting Aung San Suu Kyi and her party for joining the political process and taking part in the recent by-elections.

Stressing the need for a positive attitude in the face of differences, Ban said “President U Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi have demonstrated the confidence and statesmanship need to look beyond politics to the larger interest of the nation”.

Regarding the oath-taking of newly-elected parliament members, Ban expressed confidence that these issues will be resolved by keeping the focus on the longer term interest of the country and the immediate need of the people who look to them for leadership and results.

He warned that generation shift is now taking place across Myanmar society including within the armed forces, emphasizing the need for more understanding, more solidarity and more cooperation from all.

He underscored that the parliament is at the very center of Myanmar’s democratic transition which requires “listening to people” by “providing citizens with the political space to take part in national politics at all levels”.

He warned of important milestones lying ahead, saying that by 2014, Myanmar’s chairmanship of ASEAN will raise expectation and responsibilities that come with regional leadership.

He outlined a four-point agenda for action to advance national reconciliation and democratic transition at the historic moment with the first being calling for quick seeing of the dividends of democratic transition in their daily lives by ordinary people, the second requiring a substantial increase in international development assistance as well as foreign direct investment,

He commended the progress made in ceasefire efforts with ethnic organizations, urging prompt reconciliation of all outstanding issues.

“The situation in Kachin state is inconsistent with the successful conclusion of ceasefire agreements with all the other major groups. The Kachin people should no longer be denied the opportunities that a ceasefire and a political agreement can bring for peace and development,” Ban pointed out.

He stressed the need for a new discourse to develop an inclusive democratic culture based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, especially those of free associations and free speech and there should be safeguard for civil society and protection for the rights of ethnic minorities.

As his third official visit to Myanmar at the invitation of U Thein Sein, Ban arrived in Yangon Sunday afternoon on a three-day official visit to Myanmar in light of significant changes taking place in the country.

Ban visited Myanmar for the first time in 2008 after cyclone Nargis struck the country in May and the second in 2009.

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Written by Kham

02/05/2012 at 5:12 pm

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