Britain urges more Myanmar reform
London is ready for a "fundamental shift" in relations with military-dominated Myanmar if political reforms continue, a British minister said Thursday after meeting democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said he welcomed reformist steps made by Myanmar's army-backed government in recent months, but said further urgent action was needed, including the release of political detainees.
Mitchell met Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi at the end of a visit to Myanmar, also known as Burma, that was described by his office as the first by a British minister "in a generation".
"I am making this unprecedented visit because there are tentative -- but real -- signs of progress in Burma, which I welcome," he said in a statement released by his office.
"But my message is clear: we need urgent further progress."
He urged the Myanmar government to free all political prisoners, ensure upcoming by-elections are free and fair and end conflict on the country's borders.
"These actions would signal the way for a fundamental shift in the relationship between Burma and Britain," he said.
Southeast Asian leaders agreed on Thursday to allow Myanmar to chair their regional bloc in 2014 despite objections from the United States, which said the move was premature.
Suu Kyi's opposition party is expected to announce its return to the official political arena on Friday after years of marginalisation by ruling generals.
© 2011 AFP