Prime Minister ends his 15 day tour of 4 ASEAN States with a successful visit to Myanmar

Tue. 17 of September of 2013, 17:30h
Offical ceremony at Presidential Palace_Nay Pyi Taw 12Sep13_PORTAL

The Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão returned to Dili on Monday, September 16 after successfully completing his 15 day tour of four ASEAN member States. The final visit was to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from September 11 to 15.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Kirsty Sword-Gusmão, the Minister for Tourism, the Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Secretary of State for Youth and Sports and the Secretary of State for ASEAN Affairs. The delegation arrived in the old capital Yangon on the evening of September 11 and the following morning departed for the new capital, Nay Pyi Taw, where they were welcomed by hundreds of school children who lined up along the road outside the airport waving the national flags of Timor-Leste and Myanmar.

Official proceedings began with a full welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace where both the Prime Minister and his wife were warmly greeted by the President and the First Lady of Myanmar, Their Excellencies, U Thein Sein and Daw KhinKhin Win. Following the ceremony, the President and the Prime Minister retreated inside the palace for official bilateral discussions while the First Lady and Mrs. Sword-Gusmão held their own separate meeting.

The President opened the discussions by warmly welcoming the Timorese delegation and thanking the Prime Minister for accepting his invitation to visit. The President believed it was an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between two countries which share a similar history of colonialism. He also expressed his deep admiration and respect for Timor-Leste’s struggle for independence. The President took the occasion to brief the Prime Minister on the situation in Myanmar and how it is currently following a roadmap towards democracy. The roadmap outlines a seven step process to restore democracy to the country.

The Prime Minister in turn commended the development process in Myanmar, congratulating and expressing his support for the reform process led by the President. Prime Minister Gusmão also congratulated Myanmar on its upcoming Presidency of ASEAN next year and for hosting the SEA GAMES later in December. He also thanked the President for Myanmar’s support of Timor-Leste’s application for full membership in ASEAN.

Expressing Timor-Leste’s desire to cooperate with the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in various areas, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to introduce the Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the President and CEO of TIMOR GAP (Timor-Leste’s national oil company) and the President of the National Petroleum Authority. All three would later go on to have a separate meeting with the Myanmar Vice-Ministers for Petroleum, in which they exchanged information on their own oil and gas sector. The petroleum industry is one area that both Timor-Leste and Myanmar have in common and one that could lead to potential cooperation in terms of exchange of information and experiences.

During this visit, the Secretary of State for Youth and Sports had the opportunity to meet with Myanmar’s Minister of Sports to discuss the upcoming SEA GAMES in December, in which Timorese athletes will participate.  The Secretary of State will return to Myanmar in December for this event and will again meet up with his counterpart for further discussions on possible technical cooperation.

The First Lady and Mrs. Sword-Gusmão had an interesting discussion on women’s and children’s health, focusing on maternal healthcare and support. Discussions also focussed on the preservation of local languages (mother tongues), with Mrs. Sword-Gusmão explaining efforts undertaken in Timor-Leste to have local languages taught in early education as a means to nurture children’s development.

Following formal discussions the Prime Minister and his delegation visited the Gems Museum. Myanmar at present provides around 60% of the world’s precious stones. Later in the evening, the Timorese delegation returned to the Palace for the official banquet.

Over the next two days, the official delegation travelled to Mandalay and Bagan visiting historical and sacred religious places and meeting and appreciating local artisans and their crafts. In Bagan, the Prime Minister met with students from the Lacquerware Technology College where they explained their work and displayed their products.

The Prime Minister and his delegation ended their four day official visit by stopping at the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon before departing to the airport.