Westerwelle pledges support for Myanmar reform process | News | DW | 29.04.2012
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Westerwelle pledges support for Myanmar reform process

Germany's foreign minister met with Myanmar's leading opposition figure on Sunday. He pledged Germany's support as long as the government continues down the path of political reform.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle used a meeting with Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Sunday to express Berlin's commitment to supporting Myanmar in its efforts to introduce political reforms.

"Germany stands ready to support the people of your country," Westerwelle said following their talks. He said that Berlin was particularly interested in promoting "sustainable reforms for democracy, freedom and the rule of law," and that it was clear that the country still had some way to go to reach these goals.

Suu Kyi told Westerwelle that the reforms introduced by the country's civilian government since it replaced the country's military regime last year, were not yet "irreversible."

"You cannot be sure that those who are in power - including the army - stand with determination behind this course," she said. "There is no final answer yet."

Suu Kyi is one of hundreds of political prisoners released following the 2010 election that brought the civilian government to power. She had spent a total of 15 years under house arrest.

Steady stream of high-profile visitors

Westerwelle had arrived in Yangon earlier on Sunday, becoming the first German foreign minister to visit Myanmar in more than a quarter of a century. He is scheduled to travel to the capital, Naypidaw on Monday, where he is to meet with President Thein Sein and other officials, according to the German Foreign Office.

The German foreign minister is just the latest of a number of senior Western officials to visit Myanmar since it embarked on its reform process. His visit follows a decision by the European Union to suspend a wide range of mainly sanctions against Myanmar for a period of one year. An arms embargo, though, remains in force.

On Saturday, the European Union's foreign policy coordinator, Catherine Ashton, opened an EU office in Yangon.

Earlier on Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also arrived in Myanmar, where he was scheduled to meet with the president and visit a UN drug control project. He was also to visit the tomb of U Thant, a diplomat from Myanmar who served as UN's third secretary-general from 1961 to 1971.

pfd/ipj (EPD, dpa, AFP)