23 Nov 2012

Enthusiastic greeting for PM in Myanmar

3:19 pm on 23 November 2012

Prime Minister John Key has arrived in the Myanmar capital Naypidaw to much fanfare, with children lining the streets before a full military parade.

Hundreds of children stood alongside the highway leading out of the airport after Mr Key's arrival.

A full military parade and guard of honour welcomed Mr Key to the presidential palace, with both countries' national anthems played.

Mr Key was to meet with President Thein Sein on Thursday. He will reaffirm New Zealand's support for Myanmar's reintegration into the wider international community at the meeting.

Mr Key says New Zealand will step up its political and diplomatic engagement with Myanmar by establishing a diplomatic presence in the country next year.

He says he wants to open trade opportunities for New Zealand, as well as encourage the social and democratic reforms taking place.

Mr Key is the first New Zealand prime minister to visit Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, where decades of military repression are giving way to political and economic change.

He says the opportunities for trade and investment are exciting, but the country's development is still quite fragile.

Mr Key said he will ask President Thein Sein how New Zealand can help with consultation and policy assistance.