Vivian on three-day visit to Myanmar

YANGON • Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan began an introductory visit to Myanmar yesterday as part of a series of high-level exchanges to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between the two countries.

This is the first high-level bilateral meeting since Myanmar's new government came into power. In November last year, Myanmar held a landmark general election that swept the party led by long- time political detainee Aung San Suu Kyi into power. Her close associate, Mr Htin Kyaw, is now President as the Constitution bars her from assuming the role.

During the three-day trip to Naypyitaw and Yangon, Dr Balakrishnan will meet Ms Suu Kyi, who holds the posts of foreign minister, state counsellor and union minister in the president's office.

He will also meet Myanmar's armed forces commander-in- chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, former Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann - who now chairs an advisory panel called the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Commission for the Assessment of Legal Affairs and Special Affairs - as well as Education Minister Myo Thein Gyi and former president Thein Sein.

In a separate development, Reuters news agency reported that the US yesterday eased some sanctions on Myanmar to support political reforms and economic growth. The moves included easing restrictions on the country's financial institutions, removing seven state-owned companies from the US blacklist and extending a measure allowing shipments to go through ports and airports.

The announcement came before a visit to the country by US Secretary of State John Kerry this Sunday.

Tan Hui Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline 'Vivian on three-day visit to Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe