4 Nov 2012

EU head offers development aid to Myanmar

5:47 am on 4 November 2012

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has offered Myanmar more than $US100m in development aid.

Mr Barroso met President Thein Sein in the new capital, Nay Pyi Taw, and discussed steps to boost trade following decades of sanctions.

The European Commission head also held talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

As well as aid, the EU is believed to be offering Burma the same trade privileges as other low-income countries get, the BBC reports.

It will also fund a new "peace centre" to help Burma resolve the long-running conflicts between central government and ethnic minorities.

After her talks with Mr Barrosso, Ms Suu Kyi would not be drawn on the plight of Burma's mainly Muslim Rohingya minority.

She told the BBC people on both sides in Rakhine state had suffered from the communal violence and it was not her place to champion one side or the other.

In recent months, violence between Rohingyas and Buddhists in the state has forced 100,000 from their homes. Some 90 people were killed in a renewed bout of communal violence last week.

The BBC says the opposition leader has been subjected to some uncharacteristically stinging criticism over her unwillingness to speak up for the Rohingyas, described by the UN as among the most persecuted minorities on Earth.