24 Jan 2012

EU lifts visa bans on Myanmar politicians

1:48 pm on 24 January 2012

European foreign ministers have agreed to suspend visa bans on leading politicians in Myanmar, including the president and cabinet members.

EU ministers meeting in Brussels said the move followed a "remarkable programme of political reform" there.

A statement said further reforms would lead to a further easing of sanctions.

By-elections are due to be held in April which will be contested for the first time by the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The BBC reports reforms have been gathering pace in recent months. In mid-January, the government released a number of political dissidents from prison in an amnesty.

A civilian government came to power in November 2010, after the country's first elections in 20 years. Before that Myanmar was governed by a military junta.

The United States has also begun the process of thawing diplomatic relations saying that it will start the process of exchanging ambassadors.