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Asia

International creditors reward Myanmar for political reforms

International creditors have agreed to forgive billions of dollars in debt owed to them by Myanmar. A number of sanctions have also been eased since the civilian government began to implement reforms two years ago.

Finance Minister Win Shein announced in a statement that the Paris Club of creditors had agreed at a January 25 meeting to cancel nearly $6 billion (4.46 billion euros) of Myanmar's debt. Japan alone reportedly forgave $3 billion in debt.

The agreement, he said, heralded "an era of new relationships in which Myanmar is committed to fully cooperate with all the members of the Paris Club."

The finance minister's statement added that the extra funds made available by the debt relief would be used in development and anti-poverty programs.

There was no immediate comment from the Paris Club, but the World Bank praised the civilian government for the reforms it has introduced since taking over from the military regime in 2011.

“Myanmar has come a long way in its economic transformation, undertaking unprecedented reforms to improve people's lives, especially the poor and vulnerable," said Annette Dixon, the World Bank's Myanmar director. "Much work remains to be done. We are committed to helping the government accelerate poverty reduction and build shared prosperity."

Myanmar also announced that it had restructured more than $900 million in arrears to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, meaning both institutions would resume lending to the country.

Among the reforms introduced by President Thein Sein since his government took power two years ago is the release of a number of political prisoners including Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now a member of parliament.

pfd/hc (dpa, AFP)