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UN chief visits Myanmar in light of significant changes

Yangon , Sun, 29 Apr 2012 ANI

Yangon, Apr 29 (Xinhua-ANI): Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon arrived here Sunday on a three-day official visit to Myanmar in light of significant changes taking place in the country.

As his third official visit to Myanmar at the invitation of President U Thein Sein, Ban will travel to Nay Pyi Taw later on the day.

While in the new capital on Monday, Ban is expected to discuss with U Thein Sein ways in which the UN can assist with ongoing reform and transition.

Ban will also meet speakers of the two Houses U Shwe Mann and U Khin Aung Myint and will probably address the parliament.

Ban is expected to travel to Yangon on Tuesday and meet Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and parliament representative-elect.

"Myanmar is only at the beginning of its transition and many challenges lie ahead, many concerns have yet to be addressed yet I am convinced that we have an unprecedented opportunity to help the country advance towards a better future," said Ban days before his departure.

Ban has congratulated Myanmar on holding successful by- elections on April 1, stressing the free participation of multiple parties in the polls as an important step forward.

In the by-elections, the first held since the civilian government took office in March 2011, 157 candidates from 17 political parties competed for 45 open parliamentary seats, in which Aung-San-Suu-Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) won a majority of 43 seats.

The by-elections was observed by foreign diplomats and UN officials based in Myanmar as well as more than 150 invited international observers and media representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its dialogue partners, including the European Union and the United States.

Ban acknowledged "the courage and vision" of Thein Sein, president of Myanmar, that has "made such progress possible."

Ban urged the government and all political forces to cooperate and build on the important achievement of the by-election and to consolidate the country's democratic gains and to redouble their efforts toward genuine national reconciliation and long-term and durable peace.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has also praised parliamentary by-elections held in Myanmar as important progress in the country's democratic reform process.

It is the third trip of Ban to Myanmar with the first being in 2008 after cyclone Nargis struck the country and the second in 2009. (Xinhua-ANI)

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