Myanmar president welcomes closer Australia ties

March 18, 2013 • Business

Ethnic Rohingya protesters demonstrate against a visit by Myanmar President Thein Sein outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Monday, March 18, 2013. Many of Myanmar’s most pressing challenges involve strife among its many ethnic groups, and that was reflected in Thein Sein’s visit. About 200 people, mostly Muslim Rohingya, have died since June in violence with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. Other Rohingya have died trying to escape Myanmar in rickety boats. (AP Photo/Rod McGuirk)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Myanmar President Thein Sein welcomed closer ties with Australia on Monday as he asked for continued support through his country’s transition to “peace, democracy and prosperity,” a mission that he said “has no parallel in modern times.”

The first Myanmar leader to visit Australia since 1974, Thein Sein joined Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard for a news conference where she announced it will restore limited military cooperation and increase business ties with the Southeast Asian country, which ended five decades of military rule in 2011.

Thein Sein asked for Australian understanding about the political challenges facing his resource-rich but impoverished country.

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