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Juppé/Japan and Burma visit

Published on January 13, 2012
Visit to Japan and Burma by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs – Statement by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Deputy Spokesman

Paris, January 12, 2012

M. Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, will travel to Japan and then Burma from 13 to 16 January for official visits to each of these two countries.

He will firstly go to Tokyo on 13 January to hold, with his counterpart Mr Koichiro Gemba, the first session of the ministerial-level strategic dialogue, in accordance with the decision taken by President Sarkozy and the Prime Minister of Japan following their meeting in May 2011. M. Juppé will then be received by the Prime Minister, Mr Noda. There will also be a meeting with the French community in Japan.

France and Japan are two very close partners with shared values and interests and the same commitment to the United Nations; France supports Japan’s candidacy for permanent membership of the Security Council. The holding of the strategic dialogue reflects the strengthened dynamics in bilateral relations over the last few months, with President Sarkozy’s visit on 31 March, following the terrible disaster on 11 March 2011. These consultations will provide an overview of bilateral issues. The major international and regional issues will also be discussed, particularly the challenges in Asia and the Middle East, on which we would like to strengthen our cooperation with Japan.

M. Alain Juppé will then go to Burma from 14 to 16 January. This historic visit – the first by a French foreign minister to Burma, and the first French ministerial visit since 1988 – has been made possible by the political reform process initiated a few months ago. The Ministre d’Etat intends to encourage President Thein Sein and the Burmese authorities to continue and to give further momentum to this trend, by taking concrete measures in support of national reconciliation, human rights and the rights of minorities, and democratization.

On 15 January in Rangoon the Ministre d’Etat will meet Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi, the emblematic figure of the fight for democracy in Burma and Nobel Peace Prize winner, representatives from the parliamentary opposition parties and from parties representing ethnic communities, as well as representatives from civil society. He will also meet the French community present in Burma.

On 16 January in Naypyidaw the Ministre d’Etat will meet the President of Burma, Mr Thein Sein, with his counterpart, Mr Wunna Maung Lwin, as well as the presidents of the two houses of parliament.

While welcoming the reforms under way for several months now, the Ministre d’Etat will underline the importance that France attaches to ensuring that:

- the political prisoners still being detained are immediately and unconditionally released;

- the forthcoming parliamentary by-election, scheduled for 1 April 2012, takes place under conditions that are in accordance with democratic practices;

- agreements can be signed with the ethnic groups guaranteeing Burma’s unity and respect for the rights of minorities, so that the humanitarian organizations can have access to the people and so that a political dialogue between the government and the groups concerned can be initiated./.

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