Aquino to help Myanmar’s move towards democracy

December 06, 2013 - 6:06:20 am
MANILA: Philippine President Benigno Aquino lauded democratic reforms in Myanmar as he signed several bilateral agreements with his visiting counterpart Thein Sein yesterday.

Thein Sein arrived at Manila’s presidential palace where he was accorded a red carpet welcome for his first visit to the Philippines. Aquino said the Philippines, which also made a transition from authoritarian rule to democracy in the 1980s, would be helping Myanmar in opening up its society.

Formerly one of the most vocal critics within Asean of Yangon’s ruling junta, Aquino praised recent “historic developments” in Myanmar which include the holding of elections, release of political prisoners, dialogue with the opposition and opening up to foreign investment.

“These herald a new chapter in Myanmar’s history. The Philippines supports these initiatives and offered assistance through capacity building, through technical cooperation,” said Aquino after a meeting with Thein Sein.

The Philippines has offered to help Myanmar establish its human rights commission and training in areas like agriculture, entrepreneurship, fisheries, eco-tourism and “gender issues,” Aquino said. The two presidents also discussed peace efforts with rebel groups in their respective countries, Aquino said, adding that the Philippines would be appointing a resident defence attaché to further cooperation. 

The leaders also oversaw the signing of several agreements including one that will allow Filipinos to enter Myanmar without a visa and another that will expand cooperation in renewable energy.                                AFP
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