International


A delegation of US officials led by the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski met with representatives from the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party and the Karen State Progressive Party in Karen State’s capital Hpa-an on Monday to discuss issues related to the upcoming 2015 national elections.
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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has approved three ancient Pyu Kingdom cities – Hanlin, Beiktano and Sri Kestra – as World Heritage Sites, the first time any historical monument in Burma has been recognised by the prestigious UN award.
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Burma and the Netherlands resumed water management cooperation in 2013 after a hiatus of some 25 years. During a recent visit by the Dutch minister of infrastructure and transport, both sides expanded the cooperation and revealed plans for a joint US$20 million pilot project to improve use of the Irrawaddy River.
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Leader of democracy movement of Myanmar and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, arrived in Kathmandu Friday on a three-day visit to Nepal.
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The Central Bank of Myanmar will allow up to ten foreign banks to operate in the country, the secretary of a parliamentary committee told Mizzima on June 10.
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The US Campaign for Burma has criticized the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s decision to invest about US$170 million in the private sector development of upscale hotels and real estate in Burma, and said the projects would do little to alleviate poverty in the country.
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Politicians and activists in Rangoon have expressed mixed reactions after President Barack Obama claimed reform in Burma, also known as Myanmar, as a success for U.S. foreign policy.
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CHIANG MAI — The Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI), a Norwegian government-backed project to mobilize international support for Burma’s peace process, will continue despite criticism and the fact that it was originally set up as a short-term initiative, according to a consultant for the project.
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Katja Nordgaard, Norway’s ambassador to Burma from 2010 to 2013, has been appointed as Executive Vice President at Telenor Group, a Norwegian firm that was awarded a license to build a telecom network in Burma last year.
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The United States’ decision to extend economic sanctions on Myanmar may make businesses considering investing in the country nervous.
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Foreign firms are flooding into Myanmar, and according to the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration, through the end of April 2014, there are 707 foreign companies that have been allowed to operate in the country. Approximately 116 of those are being run by firms based in Singapore.
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The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) has appointed Tan Sri Dato Seri Syed Hamid Albar, a former Foreign Minister of Malaysia, as the organization’s “Special Envoy for Burma,” according to an OIC statement issued on May 10.
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Lobby group Burma Campaign UK (BCUK) has accused former British Prime Minister Tony Blair of playing a secretive “advisory role” to Burmese President Thein Sein, alleging that Blair has made multiple trips to the former pariah state to meet him.
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A decision by President Barack Obama to extend some economic sanctions against Myanmar for another year has been welcomed by the US Campaign for Burma and nearly 30 other civil society and humanitarian organisations which had urged they be continued.
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President Barack Obama extended some economic sanctions against Myanmar for another year on Thursday, telling Congress the step is needed despite some progress on reforms made by the country formerly known as Burma.
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British ambassador Andrew Patrick presented his credentials to the Myanmar Government in September 2013 and has since been working on supporting the reform process. There was friction in bilateral ties recently after presidential spokesman U Ye Htut accused Britain of meddling in Myanmar’s affairs. In an exclusive interview with Mizzima Business Weekly’s Hans Hulst, Mr Patrick discussed topics ranging from communal strife in Rakhine State to the census, for which Britain was one of the main sponsors.
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The US Embassy in Burma says it will seriously consider any request from the Burmese government and ethnic minority groups to support ongoing dialogue as part of the country’s peace process, after an ethnic army leader recently called for greater US involvement.
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“It’s not an issue of whether it’s worthwhile. Everyone knows, after a ten-year war, the U.S. has limits.” This is the defense President Obama used during a domestic interview for not intervening militarily in the Syrian civil war. It is safe to say that this is no longer the best era for the U.S. to promote democracy. US public opinion is increasingly against the government spending too much energy on foreign, rather than domestic issues. However, there is a consensus about Myanmar in the Washington foreign policy circle: This is a test ground that promotes American values and core interests. As the guest of honor invited by the U.S. East-West Center, NLD Chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi made a high profile claim at a March event in Yangon: “Myanmar does not only want to be a successful state, but also wants to become a global model and the hope for other countries that have not yet succeeded.” However, democratic transitions are full of challenges and US think tanks do not avoid this problem. In the course of the East-West Center program, the Global Times reporters had an opportunity to study the “challenges of democratic transitions” in the US and in Myanmar through “theory and practice.”
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A leader of ethnic Kachin rebels battling government forces in Myanmar has urged the U.S. to play a role in peace talks to quell decades of conflict in the country’s lawless border regions.
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The US will open its first commercial service office in Myanmar to help US companies invest in the southeast Asian nation, marking another step towards reviving US economic ties with the country.
The move follows the restoration of diplomatic relations and the lifting of most economic sanctions, said Penny Pritzker, US commerce secretary, as she touted the need for stronger trade relations with Asia in a speech delivered ahead of Barack Obama’s visit to the region next week.
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