Britain gives mixed report on Myanmar

Nov. 6, 2012 at 12:44 PM
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VIENTIANE, Laos, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The British government is concerned about violence in eastern Myanmar and the subsequent humanitarian crisis there, the foreign secretary said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed he met with Myanmar's President Thein Sein on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit in Laos.

The World Bank last week set aside $245 million to support reforms in Myanmar, the first such offer in 25 years. U.S. measures passed this year allow for investments in Myanmar there in response to political reforms.

Hague said he was pleased with political reforms in Myanmar, known also as Burma, but said he had concerns about the security situation there. Violence in Rakhine state, he said, was creating a humanitarian crisis.

"The U.K. is urging all political parties in Burma to do what they can to end the violence," he said in a statement.

Violence pitting Muslims against Buddhists in the coastal state of Rakhine left at least 89 people dead and thousands of people displaced. The government, through its official news agency, said the situation in Rakhine was "under control."

Nevertheless, Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told U.N. Radio this week that the situation in Rakhine was "still very, very volatile."

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