March 18 - Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Australia will ease restrictions on Myanmar following reforms, as President Thein Sein becomes the first leader from former Burma to visit to the country since 1974. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Australia will ease restrictions on military aid and engagement with Myanmar following democratic reforms since the country's ruling generals relinquished their half-century grip on power in 2011, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Monday (March 18). Myanmar's President Thein Sein is the first leader from the former Burma to visit the Australian capital since 1974. "Today I am delighted to announce an important new component of our aid programme, a partnership for reform between our two countries. A twenty million dollar commitment to strengthen democratic institutions, deliver human rights training, improve economic governance and promote the rule of law," Gillard said. Since the pariah military stepped aside and a quasi-civilian government was installed in 2011, triggering a wave of political and economic reforms, Myanmar has been cautiously welcomed back by the international community and business investors. "It is my sincere wish and aspiration that like Australia, Myanmar will enjoy peace, democracy and prosperity. We have much to learn from Australia and I hope and believe that Australia will be generous in sharing her knowledge and experiences with us. I feel certain that our relations will now enter a new and special phase," said President Thein Sein said. Gillard said restrictions would be lifted in military humanitarian aid and peacekeeping, but an arms sales embargo would stay in place.