15 Mar 2013

Myanmar leader builds closer ties with NZ

8:35 pm on 15 March 2013

The president of Myanmar wants to collaborate with New Zealand Universities in several areas, including science and technology.

Thein Sein spoke to representatives at Auckland University on Friday as part of his first official visit to New Zealand.

New Zealand ended decades of limited contact last year, when Prime Minister John Key visited Myanmar and pledged $7 million towards humanitarian aid and the construction of dairy farm capabilities.

Thein Sein told the university representatives his country is undertaking major political and social reforms and that includes the need to upgrade the quality of its higher education.

Mr Sein said there are areas in which New Zealand could help, including health, human resources, advance technologies and science.

He said his vision is to improve the country's economic development, including the exploration of minerals.

Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon told Mr Sein he hoped the visit would open opportunities for collaboration.

Mr Sein was officially welcomed on Thursday by Governor General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

At his state dinner in Auckland on Thursday night Sir Jerry said the growing relationship between the countries will be cemented further by the establishment of a diplomatic presence in Yangon.

Mr Sein welcomed that increased presence and said he would encourage bilateral trade and investment.

Sir Jerry said he also encourages increased trade and the sharing of knowledge between the two countries.

John Key and Thein Sein at a joint media conference.

John Key and Thein Sein at a joint media conference. Photo: RNZ