Canada to open embassy in Myanmar after easing sanctions
Published Friday, July 13, 2012 9:46AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 13, 2012 10:48AM EDT
Canada is set to open an embassy in Myanmar and is ready to assist local officials to strengthen democracy, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Friday.
Baird said he is encouraged by the steps Myanmar has taken over the past year to improve human rights, however, he said that more work needs to be done.
The news came on the same day as the United Nations office in Geneva said 10 staff members of the UN and foreign NGOs have been detained in Myanmar.
“Although the Burmese government has taken positive steps to improve human rights and democracy over the last year, we continue to urge more progress on reforms,” Baird said in a statement.
“Canada stands ready to assist the Burmese government in any capacity to build on the democratic fundamentals, and the freedom and rights of their people.”
The announcement was made during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum and Post Ministerial Conference in Phnom Penh.
He added that Canada looks forward to working closely with officials in Myanmar over the coming weeks as the embassy is established.
“It is our hope that this announcement will build on other positive developments in our relations with (Myanmar),” Baird said.
Myanmar operates an embassy in Canada.
In April, Canada announced significant changes to its economic sanctions against Myanmar, suspending most of the prohibitions on trade and investment.
This came one month after Baird made a landmark visit to Myanmar, marking the first official visit to that country by a Canadian foreign minister.
During his visit, he delivered a certificate recognizing Aung San Suu Kyi’s honorary Canadian citizenship, which was granted in 2007.
Suu Kyi, the famous democracy activist held under house arrest for 15 years, now holds a parliamentary seat in Myanmar.