EU’s foreign aid chief visits Myanmar

Yangon, Feb 12: European Union Development Commissioner Andris Piedalgs arrived here Sunday on a three-day visit to monitor latest developmental works in the country.

The visit is significant as it is the first by a top EU official since the new Myanmar government took office in March 2011 and initiated reforms, Xinhua reported.

The EU is expected to provide 150 million euros (about $200 million) as aid to Myanmar over the next two years. The aid is to be channelled through the UN and NGOs.

Piedalgs will discuss with the government in Nay Pyi Taw on running micro credit, health and education schemes, among others with the aid.

Piedalgs will also meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon and visit a clinic opened with EU aid, said sources.

The EU has provided 174 million euros to Myanmar since 1996 to help fight malaria and tuberculosis, improve infrastructure in rural areas and bring more than six million children to school, according to diplomatic sources.

In January, European Union foreign ministers, recognising Myanmar’s political reforms, agreed to ease travel restrictions on Myanmar senior government officials.

The reforms included release of hundreds of prisoners, the freeing of Suu Kyi from years of house arrest and allowing her and her party to take part in the April 2011 parliamentary by-elections and the peace efforts the government pursued with ethnic armed groups.

IANS