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BURMA – European Union to begin political dialogue with Burma

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The European Union will begin "sustained political
dialogue" with Burma following the thawing of relations between the
junta-led nation and the US, the regional bloc's ambassador said on 3 December.
(Source: Democratic Voice of Burma)
Dec 4, 2009 (AFP)-The European Union will begin "sustained political
dialogue" with Burma following the thawing of relations between the
junta-led nation and the US, the regional bloc's ambassador said

Ambassador David Lipman spoke to reporters in Burma's
main city Rangoon after meeting with the country's leader Senior
General Than Shwe to obtain diplomatic credentials in the remote
capital Naypyidaw a day earlier.

"We had a good discussion about future relations between
the European Union and Myanmar [Burma] and we are looking forward,"
Lipman said of the 30-minute meeting.

"I think the government would like to engage with the
European Union. They are already engaging with the United States," he

Last month US president Barack Obama signalled a new
approach with Burma when he met Prime Minister Thein Sein along with
other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in

The US and EU have sanctions against Burma because of
its human rights record and detention of Nobel peace laureate Aung San
Suu Kyi.
Lipman said future engagement would follow three tracks
– general humanitarian assistance, the giving of financial aid through
non-government organisations, and now political discussion.

"At the moment, we are working on the third track which
is for political dialogue. The third track is now very much in the
process of moving forwards," he said.

Lipman said EU officials hope to begin talks with
Burma's foreign minister Nyan Win on the sidelines of a climate change
conference that begins on Monday in Copenhagen.

Burma's officials said they could not immediately confirm Nyan Win's attendance.

"We hope to begin our dialogue by meeting with the
foreign minister at the climate change conference. So that will be the
next step where we will start a sustained political dialogue with the
government," said Lipman.
Burma has been ruled by the military since 1962.

64-year-old pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi has spent most of the past 20
years under house arrest.

Her National League for Democracy party won
elections in 1990 but the junta never allowed them to take office.
Burma's leaders have promised to hold polls next year as part of their seven-step "Road to Democracy".