Barack Obama to attend East Asia Summit and visit Myanmar – so too, John Key

Includes details of the NZ PM’s trip – The CSIS reports a Myanmar government source said president Barack Obama will visit the country and meet with Myanmar president Thein Sein later his month, as part of his trip to the region to attend the East Asia Summit (EAS) November 18-20.

The Obama administration has initiated a policy of engagement with Myanmar and encouraged political reforms by the current government. Thein Sein made a historic visit to the United States in September, and the two countries recently held the first bilateral human rights dialogue in October.

As I reported in my column in yesterday’s NZ Herald, Key will take Trade Minister Tim Groser with him to the EAS  to effectively launch his candidacy for the top job in global trade – director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

Key’s visit to Myanmar  will be the first time a New Zealand Prime Minister has visited that country.

Key will join leaders from 10 ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and new members Russia and the US, at the EAS in Phnom Penh on 20 November – “This is an important grouping of countries for New Zealand, and discussions will cover political, security and economic issues in our region. I also expect to take part in the launch of negotiations towards a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, involving the 10 ASEAN countries and their six FTA partners.”

Following the EAS Key will travel on to Myanmar where he will meet PresidentThein Sein and Opposition Leader and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi.

“There has been historic political and economic reform in Myanmar over the past year.   I look forward to seeing these developments first hand, and exploring how New Zealand can work with Myanmar to support its political and economic reintegration with the rest of the world.

“My visit reflects New Zealand’s commitment to building connections between our two countries.  As well as our shared regional interests, I expect there will be real opportunities for New Zealand businesses over the next few years in Myanmar.”


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