LONDON, April 16 (UPI) -- Increased trade with Myanmar will help support the country's transition to democratic governance, the Australian government announced Monday.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Trade Minister Craig Emerson announced Monday that their government was easing sanctions against Myanmar, previously known as Burma.
"Reducing our sanctions and encouraging trade recognize the far-reaching political, economic and social reforms we are witnessing in Burma in recent times," Carr said in a statement.
Myanmar received praise from members of the international for taking steps toward democracy. General elections in 2010 coincided with the release of some political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, now a member of Parliament.
"It is incumbent upon us now to support Burma in practical ways and seek greater engagement that will encourage these reforms to take root and sustain the conditions for further change to improve the lives of the Burmese people," said Carr.
More than 500 political prisoners have been released since President Thein Sein took office in early 2011. Activist groups, however, have expressed concern about ethnic conflicts and ongoing human rights abuses reported in the country.
Carr arrived Monday in London to meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.