New Zealand PM pays historic visit to Myanmar

2012-11-21 11:35:16 GMT2012-11-21 19:35:16(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

YANGON, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Prime Minister John Key arrived Nay Pyi Taw Wednesday on an official visit to Myanmar, official sources said.

Key is the first New Zealand leader to set foot on the Southeast Asian nation in 54 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Myanmar and New Zealand in November 1954.

Flying over from Phnom Penh where he had attended the seventh East Asia Summit, Key will meet Myanmar President U Thein Sein and opposition Leader and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi, diplomatic sources said.

"There has been historic political and economic reform in Myanmar over the past year. I look forward to seeing these developments first hand, and exploring how New Zealand can work with Myanmar to support its political and economic reintegration with the rest of the world," Key said in a recent statement in Wellington before his historic Myanmar visit.

He added that "My visit reflects New Zealand's commitment to building connections between our two countries. As well as our shared regional interests, I expect there will be real opportunities for New Zealand businesses over the next few years in Myanmar."

In March, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully visited Nay Pyi Taw for the first time in light of dramatic changes in Myanmar. Foreign ministers of the two countries vowed to promote bilateral ties and cooperation.

Besides meeting with U Thein Sein and Speaker of the parliamentary House of Representatives U Shwe Mann on bilateral ties, McCully also met with Aung San Suu Kyi.

As part of the two countries' bilateral cooperation, the New Zealand Trades Enterprise Limited (NZTE) has been providing technical assistance to Myanmar business enterprises since 2010 to help develop some sectors of the country.

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