President Thein Sein embarks for Europe

President Thein Sein embarks for Europe

President Thein Sein flew out of Naypyidaw on Monday evening to begin a 10-day trip to Europe which will include official visits to Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands for the first time.

The president was accompanied by Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin; Information Minister Ye Htut; President’s Office Minister Soe Thane; Minister for Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development Ohn Myint; Minister for Transport Nyan Tun Aung; and Minister for Electric Power Khin Maung Soe.

No specific details were announced, though state media reported that the trip was “to promote friendship and cooperation” between Burma and the nations involved.

Thein Sein is scheduled to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, September 2, before travelling to Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Last year, the Burmese president made official trips to Britain, Norway, France, Italy and Belgium.

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European nations, and the European Union in particular, have been offering financial support to Burma since it began undertaking democratic and economic reforms in 2011.

In July, the EU funded a 4 million euro programme to tackle climate change in Burma, while in May, the Council of the European Union initiated a plan for regular human rights dialogue between the bloc and Burma.

In February, German President Joachim Gauck agreed to halve Burma’s debt to Germany. It now stands at US$740 million to be repaid at low interest over 15 years.

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