19 Nov 2012

Key to make historic visit to Myanmar

7:20 am on 19 November 2012

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key makes a historic visit to Myanmar this week to show the Government's support for democratic changes taking place in the southeast Asian nation.

The country has undergone radical reforms over the past 18 months after more than 50 years of military rule.

Mr Key will be the first prime minister from New Zealand to visit Myanmar.

A new civilian-led government was sworn in last year and has implemented a series of economic and political reforms. It has also freed many political prisoners and relaxed censorship.

Mr Key believes there are a lot of opportunities in Myanmar in the long term.

"It's a large country and could potentially be quite wealthy. There's a lot of commercial opportunities there and we just want to encourage that progress of democracy that's taking place in Myanmar."

John Key will meet Myanmar president Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest before being released in 2010.