David Cameron's Burma visit: latest
David Cameron calls for the suspension of sanctions after meeting Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on an historic visit to Burma.
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Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA
10:00AM BST 13 Apr 2012
12.25 Ms Suu Kyi welcomed the move to suspend sanctions, saying:
This would strengthen the hand of the reformers - not just the suspension but the fact that there is always a possibility of sanctions coming back again if the reforms are not allowed to proceed smoothly.
I think there are prospects for change in Burma. I think it's right for the rest of the world to respond to those changes.
But he said the response must be cautious and sceptical, and that sanctions should be suspended and not lifted so that if reform process is reversed they can be reimposed.
Paying tribute to Ms Suu Kyi at a news conference after talks with the iconic democracy campaigner, he added:
What an inspiration it is to have followed your struggle, to have watched your incredible courage, and the light you have shown to all those around the world who want to see freedom, democracy and human rights.
12.10 David Cameron invites Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Britain in June. Ms Suu Kyi replies: "Well, perhaps."
12.00 Aung San Suu Kyi backs the suspension of sanctions saying it would "strengthen the hand" of reformers in the Government.
11.58 Speaking alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, David Cameron says:
I think it is right to suspend the sanctions that there are against Burma.
11.30 Burmese dissident Mya Aye tells the BBC:
As things improve in the country, sanctions should be reduced accordingly. The political situation in Burma now is like it's come out from total darkness and people can now see a glimpse of dawn at a distance.
However, Wai Hnin, of the Burma Campaign UK, says there is still "no democratic system in Burma yet".
To remove all the sanctions would be a little bit silly - I'm afraid that these changes will stop.
Prime Minister David Cameron meets Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her Lakeside Villa in Rangoon, Burma (PA)
11.10 David Cameron has met Aung San Suu Kyi to enter talks at the Rangoon home where she spent much of the past 22 years under house arrest under Burma's military regime.
11.05 The Daily Telegraph's Rowena Mason, who is travelling with the Prime Minister, writes:
David Cameron is “cautiously optimistic for the future” of Burma as a democracy after talks with the country’s leader, Downing Street sources have said.
Mr Cameron is making a historic visit to Burma today, and met President Thein Sein in the capital, Naypyitaw.
After the meeting, aides said the Prime Minister believes the president “is sincere in what has happened so far” after recent elections and the liberation of political prisoners.
Burma has been dominated by its military for more than 50 years, but has recently begun a process of reform that some believe will lead to the restoration of democracy.
Mr Cameron, the first British premier to visit Burma, is understood to believe the country today is like East Germany looking over the wall into West German and realising the future is democracy
After his meeting with Mr Thein, Mr Cameron travelled to the home of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.
10.50 Video: David Cameron praises Burma's move towards democracy on historic trip.
10.30 Save the Children is urging David Cameron and the rest of the international community to take steps to lift millions of Burmese children out of poverty.
The charity says that the country is "desperately poor" with one third of the population living on just 30p a day and more than a million children in the country underweight.
Kelland Stevenson, Save the Children’s country director in Myanmar, said:
More than a million children under five in Myanmar are suffering from chronic malnutrition brought on by poverty and inadequate spending on health care. Chronic malnutrition has severe long term effects on children’s health as they grow
Malnutrition limits their physical growth, weakens their immune system and significantly hampers mental development. The government and the donor community should prioritise reforms that help reduce child hunger. Mr Cameron can do his bit by endorsing and encouraging poverty-reduction efforts.
09.45 Andy Heyn, British ambassador to Burma, writes that the Prime Minister's visit is truly "historic" and "almost unbelievable".
When I arrived here in July 2009, the prospect of such a senior visit was so far-fetched as to be absurd.
09.00 Esmer Golloglu (a pseudonym) writes in the Guardian about life in the new Burma - where property and hotel prices have been rocketing as the country prepares to open up to Western tourism and culture.
08.30 Mr Thein told the Prime Minister through a translator:
This visit of your excellency is significant and historical in our bilateral relations. We are very encouraged and we are most appreciative of your kind acknowledgement towards Myanmar.
08.00 The Prime Minister's convoy drove from the airport of the purpose-built capital Naypyidaw down deserted roads.
At one point it passed by a group of people who sprayed it with water to mark the Thingyan Burmese New Year festival.
Mr Cameron then held a meeting with President Thein Sein at his palace.
Prime Minister David Cameron talks with Burma's President Thein Sein during their meeting at the President's Office in Naypyidaw (Reuters)
07.30 The Prime Minister said:
It's also right to come and meet Aung San Suu Kyi who has shown incredible courage over these past decades and frankly is a shining example to people all the world who yearn for freedom, for democracy, for progress.
We should be under no illusions about what a long way there is to go and how much more the (Burmese) government has to do to show this reform is real and it is irreversible.
We should be very cautious and very sceptical about that. We need to see progress on political reform. We need to see prisoners freed and changes that show the reform is irreversible.
07.00 Mr Cameron described Ms Suu Kyi as "a shining example for people who yearn for freedom, for democracy, for progress".
He added: "We should be under no illusion about what a long way there is to go." The Prime Minister said the government had to demonstrate that moves to democracy were "irreversible".
06.55 Speaking on the tarmac as he arrived in the new capital Naypyidaw, Mr Cameron said:
This country really matters. For decades it has suffered under a brutal dictatorship. It is also desperately poor. It doesn't have to be this way.
There is a government now that says it is committed to reform, that has started to take steps, and I think it is right to encourage those steps.
Burma's President Thein Sein shakes hands with Prime Minister David Cameron in Naypyidaw (Reuters)
06.34 David Cameron arrives in Burma, now known as Myanmar, on what is believed to be the first visit to the former colony by a British Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister is expected to signal the easing of sanctions against the country as he delivers a message of support to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in person.
He is also due to meet President Thein Sein and congratulate him on pushing through democratic reforms.
The European Union is expected next week to review its policies on economic sanctions on Myanmar that were imposed because of repression under the previous military regime.
Western nations have held out the prospect of easing sanctions if Thein Sein continues the political liberalisation he began after taking office a year ago. Foreign investors as well as Myanmar entrepreneurs expect a business boom when restrictions are lifted.
Mr Cameron is due to meet Ms Suu Kyi later today.
The 66-year-old became an iconic democracy campaigner as she spent most of the past two decades under house arrest under the country's military regime.
But under a recent thawing of her relationship with the government, she took part in April 1 byelections to win 43 of the 44 seats it contested. She will head the opposition bloc in parliament when it convenes on April 23.
Mr Cameron's is the latest high-profile visit by a foreign dignitary, coming after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip in December and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague in January.