21 Jan 2012

Myanmar leader urges West to lift sanctions

8:47 am on 21 January 2012

The president of Myanmar, Thein Sein, says his government has met many of the West's conditions for lifting sanctions.

In an interview with the Washington Post newspaper, Thein Sein said recent reforms had put Myanmar on the right track and the West should now do its part.

He said the West should lift economic sanctions because the government had met many of their demands.

President Thein Sein took office in March 2011, after the country's first elections in 20 years in November 2010. Before that Burma was governed by a military junta.

Since then his military-backed civilian government has begun a process of reform, including dialogue with the pro-democracy camp.

This month his military-backed civilian government held ceasefire talks with rebel groups and released hundreds of political prisoners, including the highest-profile dissidents.

In the interview, the president said the military was 'no longer involved in the executive body of government though it retained a quarter of the seats in parliament.

He said he had been able to reach an understanding with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The head of the National League for Democracy has registered to run in a by-election on 1 April for a parliamentary seat.