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Burma ‘a beacon of hope’, says Canadian FM

Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion (left) meets with his Burmese counterpart Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw on 7 April 2016. (Photo: Embassy of Canada to Burma - Myanmar)

Describing Burma as a “beacon of hope” in a world where other countries are turning increasingly to authoritarian rule, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion today pledged his country’s support for Burma’s transition to democracy.

“Myanmar [Burma] needs to succeed. It’s important for your country, it’s important for the world,” Dion said on Thursday at a joint press conference with his Burmese counterpart, National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In particular, Dion said that the Canadian government would fund a project to help Burma “identify the best practices around the world” related to federalism — an offer Suu Kyi welcomed as an important contribution to the NLD-led government’s goal of building “a strong and lasting federal union.”

“Canada understands, perhaps more than many other countries, the difficulties that we have to face as a nation made up of many different peoples,” she said.

In addition to promoting the creation of “an inclusive democratic federal union,” Dion said the Canadian government would spend a total of US$33 million on projects to help Burma improve its system of governance and promote gender equality.

In 2015, Canada donated $2 million in humanitarian aid to help victims of Cyclone Komen. Bilateral trade between the two countries is $51 million.