Australia eases defence curbs as Myanmar leader visits
CANBERRA (AFP) - Australia on Monday boosted its aid and eased restrictions on defence cooperation with Myanmar as Thein Sein became the country's first head of state to visit Canberra since 1974.
As the once pariah country approaches the second anniversary of a quasi-civilian regime led by ex-general Thein taking power, Canberra said it was increasing its support to recognise reforms made.
"As a close neighbour, Australia will benefit from a more open and prosperous Myanmar that is fully integrated into the region," said Prime Minister Julia Gillard of the country formerly known as Burma.
"Australia's commitment to expand its constructive engagement with Myanmar recognises the unprecedented process of change underway there towards political freedom and the new opportunity this brings to help promote the prosperity of Myanmar and its people.