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Myanmar 'to free all political prisoners by 2014'

President Thein Sein makes pledge during UK visit

Myanmar 'to free all political prisoners by 2014'

President Thein Sein meet UK Prime Minister David Cameron (picture: Andrew Cowie/AFP)

Mike MacLachlan, London

July 16, 2013

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President Thein Sein of Myanmar promised yesterday to release all political prisoners by the end of this year, in a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

Thein Sein is on his first trip to the UK. He met with Cameron on Monday, who said greater action was need on human rights. He reserved particular concern for the violence towards Rohingya Muslims, the BBC reported last night.

“By the end of the year there will be no prisoners of conscience in Myanmar,” Thein Sein said afterwards, adding that a special committee had been set up to review each individual case.

In a statement on his website ahead of the talks, the Myanmar leader also addressed the Buddhist-Muslim violence in Rakhine state, which has left more than 200 dead and tens of thousands forced into refugee camps.

The president, who has won praise for his reform drive after six decades of military rule in Myanmar, said he had disbanded the feared border security force in Rakhine state, NaSaKa, which was accused of rights violations in the conflict.

The focus of the talks at 10 Downing Street was trade and military ties. The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that a defense attaché was to be appointed to the British embassy in Yangon.

Myanmar military staff would be given training in human rights and the laws of armed conflict by British officers, it said.

This followed a request from the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and a visit to Myanmar by General Sir David Richards, chief of the British defence staff, it added.

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