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Myanmar praised for Kachin reform efforts

June 6, 2013 at 12:31 PM

LONDON, June 6 (UPI) -- The British government sees dialogue between Kachin rebels and the Myanmar government as a key ingredient for peace, a British minister for Asia said Thursday.

British Minister for Southeast Asia Hugo Swire said he welcomed a reconciliation agreement reached between the separatist Kachin Independence Organization and the government of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

"We continue to support the efforts of the government and representatives of ethnic groups to reach robust and sustainable peace agreements through a political process," he said in a statement.

Members of the human rights community from Myanmar met last month with Swire in London. He said in the last 18 months, Myanmar has made "significant strides" in political reform through elections, internal peace provisions and through the release of political prisoners.

British defense officials met last week with Myanmar political leaders, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to review the political and reconciliation processes.

Myanmar is hosting an annual meeting for the World Economic Forum. Myanmar's allies say the country is ripe for investments as it charts a course to democracy. Human rights groups say it's too soon to reward Myanmar because of ongoing national security concerns.

The British government last month said it would provide Myanmar with $900,000 to help set up a responsible investment center in Yangon, formerly Rangoon.

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