Barroso offers EU development aid to Myanmar

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Barroso offers EU development aid to Myanmar

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The President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has offered Myanmar 78 million euros in EU development aid, as he became the most senior Western leader to visit the new capital Nay Pyi Taw.

He is the latest of several dignitaries from the West to meet President Thein Sein. It comes as Myanmar – also known as Burma – continues its reform programme.

At the huge parliament Barroso met its influential speaker Shwe Mann, a former senior general in Myanmar’s military junta and now also seen as a reformer.

State media have released details of a new foreign investment law. Approved after a long internal struggle, it gives significant incentives to overseas companies.

As did other leaders before him, Barroso also called in on Aung San Suu Kyi, whose new freedom after years of detention is seen as a symbol of the democratic process.

The opposition leader has refused to take sides in the communal conflict in Rakhine state that has forced 100,000 to leave their homes.

Around 90 people have been killed over the past week in violence between majority Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas – described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

Myanmar’s president has acknowledged that attitudes towards them must change.