Encouraging developments in Burma

Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal is pleased with the Burmese government’s decision to release a substantial number of detainees, including prominent political prisoners and leaders of religious and ethnic-minority groups.

Mr Rosenthal said: ‘For the first time in 60 years, a ceasefire has been agreed with the Karen minority. This is an important step forward. These are encouraging developments in the process of reform that was started last year.’ But the minister emphasised that the reforms need to be firmly grounded. ‘All political prisoners must be released. The interim elections for vacant seats in the Burmese parliament must be free and fair. And the Burmese authorities need to make real progress on achieving reconciliation with the country’s ethnic minorities.’