Burma

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 15th January 2015.

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Photo of Simon Kirby Simon Kirby Conservative, Brighton, Kemptown

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to improve UK-Burmese diplomatic relations; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The UK’s relations with Burma have improved since 2011 when President Thein Sein embarked on a programme of reform. Since then we have been a critical friend, using our bilateral relationship to encourage reforms and speaking out where Burma has fallen short of accepted international standards of democracy and human rights. As a result of our engagement, the UK has been able to increase our access and influence with the government of Burma.

Since the reform process began, the government of Burma has made progress in a number of areas, not least by releasing hundreds of political prisoners and child soldiers, and opening up space for the media and civil society to operate. The UK’s support has included a package of development assistance, worth £82 million in financial year 2015-16. We will continue to use our diplomatic relations to encourage reform in 2015, when elections due to be held towards the end of the year will be a critically important milestone in Burma’s transition to a more open and democratic society. At the same time, we recognise there is still a lot further to go, including on human rights, and we will continue to make our concerns known to the government of Burma, both publicly and privately.

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