World Bulletin/News Desk
Australia will lift its remaining financial and travel sanctions against Myanmar and double its aid in a move to encourage further democratic reform as the country tentatively emerges from decades of military rule, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said.
The lifting of economic sanctions, which follows a U.S. suspension of sanctions, will come into effect in coming weeks but Australia's arms embargo against Myanmar will remain in place, Carr said in a statement.
"Myanmar has made great strides over the past year, though there is more to be done," Carr said.
"The point has been reached where lifting sanctions is the best way to promote further progress," he said.
Carr met President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday during a visit to the former Burma.
Myanmar has been slowly putting in place democratic reforms that have attracted the interest of investors and persuaded Western governments to suspend or lift sanctions.
In April, Australia outlined its plan to ease sanctions and normalise bilateral trade relations in recognition of the reforms over the past year. Ruled by a military dictatorship for most of its contemporary history, Myanmar held parliamentary by-elections in April.
The United States announced the suspension of sanctions against Myanmar in May, allowing U.S. energy, mining and financial services companies to look for opportunities in an economy that had been run down by five decades of military rule.
Carr said President Thein Sein and Suu Kyi had also been invited to visit Australia and that Australia will more than double its annual aid to Myanmar, one of the poorest countries in the world, to A$100 million ($99 million) by 2015.
'Tragic but avoidable accident (was) caused primarily by human error,' General John Campbell says
Japanese, US officials decide to hold joint exercises in contested sea amid China's maritime expansion
'Seven people - six pilgrims and the lady pilot - died in the crash,' a police official says
Residents rush for open space as tremors shake cities across region
Former Muslim rebel group orders officials to combat illegal drugs, while communist insurgents launch similar campaign in nearby provinces
More than 70 Pakistani journalists and other media workers have lost their lives since 2001 while pursuing their duties
Obama says he invited leaders from ASEAN to the US, insisting that good ties with Asian nations were 'absolutely critical' to US security
The two opposition leaders, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury were hanged shortly after President Abdul Hamid rejected their mercy petitions
The opposition leader is now implicated in a second case which follows warrant issued for arrest of Sam Rainsy for defaming foreign minister
Malaisian PM has told Southeast Asian leaders at the opening of 27th ASEAN Summit that Malaysia ready to provide help to extinguish 'new evil that blasphemes Islam'
The Bangladeshi leaders who have received a death sentence have sought a presidential pardon. Human Rights Watch has urged for Bangladesh to suspend executions
The December 14 massacre left more than 140 people dead, mostly school children in an army-run school
A helicopter has gone down on New Zealand glacier while six tourists on board were sightseeing
Officials emphasize, however, that Indonesia will not be covering the bills
Killers opened fire on paramilitary Rangers outside the Abu Hurairah mosque in Ittehad Town, a suburb of the city that is infested with Taliban-linked fighters
Country has been struggling to provide enough power to 200 million citizens for years, and solving energy crisis was key campaign pledge for PM Sharif in run-up to 2013 general election