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Canada’s foreign affairs minister on Thursday will make the first official visit by a Canadian official to Burma in an apparent warming of relations, his office announced.
The visit comes three months after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held landmark talks with Burma’s rulers, saying she was “encouraged” by reform moves from the new regime after decades of repression and isolation.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will meet with President Thein Sein and other senior officials in Naypyidaw, and later travel to Rangoon to meet with famed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We are visiting at a time when we’re cautiously optimistic about recent changes,” a Canadian government official told AFP. “While we’re not at a point of lifting sanctions, we want to make sure advances made are not reversible.”
Burma was ruled by the military for decades until elections last year brought a nominally civilian government to power — albeit one with close links to the army.
Ottawa imposed sanctions on Burma in 1988 that ban military exports to the country, hinder trade and deny visas to senior officials.
Last year, Burma posted an ambassador in Ottawa sending a signal of warming diplomatic relations.