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Myanmar steps into international role at Asean helm

Published on Jan 15, 2014 1:21 PM

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar (AFP) - Myanmar begins its first international political role in decades this week as host of Southeast Asia's regional bloc, with experts warning against "over-inflated" expectations as the group grapples with territorial disputes and ambitious economic integration plans.

The country will host foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) for an informal meeting on Friday in the ancient capital Bagan - the first major gathering of the group under Myanmar's debut year-long stewardship.

The long-isolated country has won international praise and the removal of most Western sanctions for wide-ranging reforms since the end of junta rule nearly three years ago, raising the promise of an investment boom.

The former pariah state has freed political prisoners, welcomed opposition parties into parliament and launched economic reforms.

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