EU makes diplomatic gesture to Myanmar

Jan. 17, 2013 at 11:54 AM

BRUSSELS, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The opening of a European Union delegation in Myanmar will give leaders a chance to be better involved with national reforms, the EU foreign policy chief said.

The European Union said Thursday it was opening diplomatic offices in Yangon on the advice of foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. International engagement with Myanmar has increased since the country took democratic steps with general elections in 2010.

Ashton, in a statement, said the diplomatic gesture was in response to what she said where historic changes from Myanmar's government.

"The opening of a delegation in Yangon will allow the EU to step up its dialogue and cooperation with national authorities and other stakeholders with a view to contributing to the country's economic, political and social development," she said.

Myanmar has opened its doors to foreign dignitaries and members of the community of non-governmental organizations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited the country this week as did delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Simmering conflict between government forces and rebels from northern Kachin state has complicated Myanmar's recent reform efforts. Ethnic tensions between Muslim and Buddhist communities in the coastal state of Rakhine, meanwhile, sparked renewed concerns about the country's overhaul.

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