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Thein Sein leaves for Europe

Myanmar President
Thein Sein (C) arrives at Yangon International Airport before leaving for a
visit to Britain and France on July 14, 2013. Photo: AFP

AFP
July 14, 2013

President Thein
Sein left Myanmar Sunday for a visit to Britain and France, an official said,
as the former junta general looks to build on support for his much-lauded
reforms.
“The president
left Yangon this morning to visit Britain and France,” a government official
told AFP without giving further details of the visit, Thein Sein’s second trip
to Europe in months.
Another official
earlier said the trip would be from July 14 to 18.
Thein Sein visited
several European countries in March — although not Britain or France — to
bolster relations.
The former general
has surprised the international community by overseeing sweeping reforms since
taking the presidency in 2011.
Those changes
include freeing hundreds of political prisoners and welcoming democracy champion
Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party into parliament.
The European Union,
which had already ditched most sanctions except an arms embargo, has readmitted
Myanmar to its trade preference scheme, saying it wanted to support reform in
the once-pariah state through economic development.
Washington has also
lifted most embargoes and foreign companies are now eager to enter the
resource-rich nation, with its perceived frontier market of some 60 million
potential consumers.
Barack Obama paid a
first-ever US presidential visit to Myanmar last November, and Thein Sein
visited Washington in May.