William Hague hails Burma reform, says more needed


William Hague said the freeing of political prisoners in Burma was ''a top priority''

British Foreign Secretary William Hague says he believes the momentum for change in Burma is real, but has warned against relaxing pressure too soon.

Mr Hague was speaking after talks with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.

Ms Suu Kyi said she was confident that Britain and others in the world would help Burma's move towards democracy.

Mr Hague's visit is the first by a British foreign secretary to the country for more than 50 years.

On Thursday he met top leaders in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital, and called for more progress on releasing political prisoners.

Mr Hague is the latest in a series of top diplomats to visit the South East Asian nation, which has taken steps towards reform in recent months.

In November 2010 it held its first polls in 20 years, replacing military rule with a military-backed nominally civilian government.

It has also begun to engage in dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, whose NLD party won the last elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power.

Some media censorship has been relaxed and some - but by no means all - political prisoners freed.

Poor rights record

Mr Hague said he had been struck by the potential for Burma if the reform trend continued.

"This is a very exciting time because there is a chance that what she [Aung San Suu Kyi] and her colleagues have hoped and longed for for so long will actually take place in this country," he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi said she trusted the Burmese president

He paid tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi and what he called her indispensable work in bringing Burma to this point.

But, reports the BBC's Rachel Harvey in Rangoon, he acknowledged the dangers of engaging with a government still tainted by a history of abuse and repression.

"We must not assume that everything is done and relax our efforts prematurely," he said.

He also said there was "much more" work to be done before sanctions were lifted.

Mr Hague was also expected to meet other dissidents and representatives of ethnic minority groups seeking greater autonomy before ending his visit.


More on This Story

Burma's Transition


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  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    It's good to see that the comments immediately open up with xenophobic selfishness.

    How can you oppose efforts to make the world a better place? The Foreign Secretary should absolutely be concentrating on relations with foreign countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    On the same day that the US announces it is to increase it's presence in Asia and the Pacific, Hague is poking about in Burma, preaching about democracy.

    This looks like the beginning of a long assault against those Chinese commies. The American Empire is spreading.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    6. Spinonthis

    You may or may not be aware that the UK governed Burma until it became independent in the late 1940s. As the former colonial power, the UK does have at least an interest in how it evolves, even if you don;t think it has any formal obligations.

    I trust you also know that Hague's title is "Foreign Secretary". The clue behind his dealings with foreign governments is in the title.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    oh jesus here we go again, come on billy, time to concentrate on your own people and your own problems right now, burma doesnt have any exploitable resources, so you wont get big business backing your war, really dont think a recession squeezed electorate will tolerate another pointless conflict

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Hague need to mind his own darn business, Burma is not one of our Neighbours, nor is it any of our concern. Get out and stay out, let the countries of the region deal with it, we have enough issues of our own.

    Never mind Burma please.
    Concentrate on the UK if you don't mind

    Typical small-minded Brit comments !

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    No British government has ever had the best interest at heart of any country it interfered in. The only reason it's even remotely interested in Burma is to annoy China. More recently Iraq, Afghan, Libya and historical rape and pillaging in India/Africa and the mess in Palestine is Britains doing. No wonder we spend so much on security and everyone is our enemy. A criminal never sleeps easy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Just shut up hague you stupid little boy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Hague need to mind his own darn business, Burma is not one of our Neighbours, nor is it any of our concern. Get out and stay out, let the countries of the region deal with it, we have enough issues of our own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    This is all good and well but I wonder how those in the Political or Military higher ranker will response to the countries mass genocide of the people of Burma...

    On another note, We as a nation have done too little to resolve this. It makes you wonder what would have happened if they had oil to spare...

    Hmm Libya...

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Never mind Burma please.

    Concentrate on the UK if you don't mind

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    From little acorns mighty Oaks can grow.It takes time but if nurtured the right way can be good news for Burma and all its people.Its showing that dictatorship/Communist rule and the like is on its way out slowly but surely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I daresay Burma says the same about the UK. No shining political lights here at the present time, that's for certain. The trouble with democracy is one only has oneself to blame for the appalling people in power

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    This history of development of democracy tells us the first steps are the hardest, but once achieved the rest more often than not follows on from their.

    Baby steps are as good a place to start as any.


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