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    "In the history of Myanmar, international and diplomatic relations have existed since ancient times. In 801-802 AD, a Pyu monarch of Myanmar sent envoys to China via Nan Cho and established foreign relations.
   King Anawrahta, Bayint Naung and Alaung Paya, during their reign, integrated small states and established great Myanmar Naing-Ngan. During that periods, political, economic, diplomatic and cultural ties with Sri Lanka, Assam, Manipur, Bengal, India, China, Lin Zin (Laos), Chiang Mai, Ayuthaya (Thailand), Anan and Champa (Vietnam), Yun (Cambodia) and Malay had been in force. During Konbaung Dynasty founded by King Alaung Paya, diplomatic ties and international relations were promoted considerably. Myanmar Ministers such as Kinwun Mingyi and Thandawgyi U Cheint visited neighbouring countries and European nations including England, Italy, Spain and Portugal and established relations.
    After independence, Myanmar established international relations based firmly on the Five Principles of equality and peaceful co-existence and actively participated in world affairs as and when circumstances permitted.
Independent sovereign nations, in dealing with other independent States, have laid down and exercised such foreign policies as to serve their national interests. Such a foreign policy, which is the consequential outcome of the domestic policy of the country concerned, is laid down to serve and uphold the interest of the nation. The Union of Myanmar, after regaining independence on 4 January 1948, also laid down a foreign policy compatible with prevailing conditions of the State and world situation that could serve most the interest of Myanmar. It was the independent and active foreign policy.
   Myanmar practises an independent and active foreign policy in accord with the following princip les:
  • To always seriously uphold the principle of equality between peoples and equality between States and the five principles of peaceful co-existence;
  • To eschew partiality in world affairs, determine the truth independently, and adopt an attitude on such a determination ;
  • To maintain friendly relations with all nations and especially good neighbourly relations with neighbouring States;
  • To support the United Nations and UN Organizations and actively participate in their works;
  • To undertake benefical bilateral and multilateral cooperative ventures within the framework of the Indenpendent Foreign Policy
  • To coordinate and cooperate with regional States in regional economic and social affairs;
  • To actively work for world peace and security, against imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, for non-interference, non-intervention and non-domination by one State in another State's affairs, and for creation of equitable economic donditions;
  • To accept for assistance and aid offered for national developoment and without strings attached.
   This independent and active foreign policy is adopted as being the true course of action in the contexts of world situation and Myanmar's situation.
   The indepentdent and active foreign policy is best suited to Myanmar in view of her geographic position, her past experiences in international relations. In order, therefore, to take part in the development of world politics as a member of thefamily of world nation with a constant view ot maintaining friendly relations with world nations and especially of neighbouring nations, the independent and active foreign policy has been adopted.
   The State Peace and Development Council is making endeavours to make the nation stand tall among the nations of the world, upholding the policy.
government05     Myanmar maintains diplomatic and consular relations with 84 countries in all five continents of the world. Myanmar has established embassies in 30 countries namely Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea (South), Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam and Yugoslavia.  In addition, there are Myanmar Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York and Geneva.  It also maintains Consulates-General in Hong Kong and in Kunming.
    There are 27 foreign embassies resident in Yangon.  There is also a Consulate- General of the People's Republic of China in Mandalay and a Consulate-General of Bangladesh in Sittway.  Two offices of the Honorary Consulate have also been opened There are 38 Ambassadors who have concurrently accredited to Myanmar.  The United Nations is represented by UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, WHO, UNDCP and UNHCR offices in Yangon.
     In accordance with its independent and active foreign policy, the Unio of Myanmar has constantly participated in international and regional affairs. Peace is needed in Myanmar for its development and it is-also essential for the world. Accordingly, peace in the region and the world as a whole is the unaltered and unchangeable principle of the foreign policy of Myanmar.  Myanmar is working actively and enthusiastically to the best of its ability and capability for prevalence of peace in the world. Hence, Myanmar has been working persistently for friendship with world nations particularly with neighbouring countries. Shorten animosity, prolong amity, a saying in Myanmar, is a principle of Myanmar's foreign policy.
    The foreign policy of Myanmar is based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. The essence of the Five Principles rests on respect for Myanmar's sovereignty and territorial integrity and solving international problems peacefully between nations. Myanmar has given priority to friendly relations with neighbouring countries and dealing with them as a good neighbour. The problem of demarcation of boundaries with neighbouring countries was handled and solved in a discreet and intelligent manner.
     Soon after the end of World War II, the United Nations was founded on 24 October 1945 to create a peaceful and prosperous world. Three months after regaining independence, Myanmar applied for membership of the world organization. With unanimous approval of the U.N Security Council and General Assembly, Myanmar became the 58th member of the United Nations on 19 April 1948.
government08     Strictly adhering to the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, Myanmar has actively participated in the General Assembly sessions and other meetings held under the auspices of the United Nations. The leader of Myanmar delegation, Minister for Foreign Affairs, has made statements at annual General Assembly sessions. The statements included Myanmar's stance and view on international issues as well as changes and development taking place in Myanmar, its policies and programmes so as to inform the world of Myanmar's situation. The Vice-Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council General Maung Aye led the Myanmar delegation to the General Assembly marking the Fiftieth Anniversary of the
United Nations Day in 1995.
     Myanmar is also working in cooperation with specialized U.N agencies and Programmes. They are the International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), U.N Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), World Postal Union, International Telegraph Union (ITU), World Meteorological Organization
     (WMO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
    Myanmar has also been cooperating with UN agencies such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP).
    Myanmar has dutifully provided its share of financial contribution every year to the United Nations - one of the duties every member nation must discharge dutifully and conscientiously.
government09      Myanmar was invited to become a member of ASEAN in 1967 when the Association of South -East Asian Nations was founded. But due to the policies and priorities of Myanmar and then international and regional situations, Myanmar placed greater emphasis on promoting bilateral ties with ASEAN member countries rather than the entry to ASEAN. In line with the present changes in the international situation and in consonance with policies, aims and objectives, the government started to work earnestly for regional cooperation.
     Accordingly, Myanmar took steps for its entry into the regional grouping, ASEAN. Myanmar attended the 27th ASEAN Ministerial meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, in July 1994 as the guest of the host country. Myanmar also attended as guest of the host nation the 28th ASEAN Ministerial meeting held in Brunei in July 1995. At the meeting, Myanmar signed the Friendship and Cooperation Agreement and applied for observer status in the ASEAN.
     The Chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (now State Peace and Development Council) Senior General Than Shwe attended the Informal Summit of South-East Asian Nations held in Bangkok, Thailand, in December 1995 and signed the Agreement on establishing a South-East Asian Nuclear Free Zone. At the 29th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia in July 1996, Myanmar became an observer nation of ASEAN, and also a member of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Myanmar applied for full fledged membership of ASEAN in August 1996. In order to provide guidance in ASEAN affairs, the ASEAN Steering Committee headed by Secretary-1 Lt. General Khin Nyunt was formed in October 1996. The Summit Meeting of the Ten South-East Asian Nations held from 30 November to 1 December 1996 decided to accept Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar as ASEAN member nations. Thus, Myanmar became a full fledged member of ASEAN at the acceptance ceremony held in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, on 23 July 1997.
     Myanmar has played an active part in ASEAN and regional affairs. The Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Senior General Than Shwe attended the First Informal Summit of ASEAN held in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 1 December 1996. He also attended the Second Informal Summit Meeting of ASEAN held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 14 to 16 December 1996 as well as the meeting of Heads of State and Heads of Qovemment of ASEAN, China, Japan
and Korea.
    As a member of ASEAN, Myanmar will be able to present its views and stand through ASEAN to the blocs that are bent on making unfair allegations and threats, can have more economic opportunities with the help of member nations and it will no longer be necessary to pay heed to the other half of the globe for investment as there will be greater cooperation among friendly nations of the region in every field. These are the benefits that can be gained as an ASEAN member.
Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Myanmar
     Foreign Ministers of ASEAN countries and delegates attended ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat held in Yangon on 30 April 2001. It was chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr.Nguyen Dy Nien of Vietnam.
    Although Myanmar is a South-East Asian nation, it is geographically situated as a bridge between South Asia and South -East Asian region. To take an active part in regional cooperation, Myanmar decided to become a member of BIST-EC, an economic group made up of South-East Asian and South Asian countries. BIST-EC comprising Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand was formed on 6 June 1997. When Myanmar became a member of the economic cooperation group on 22 December 1997, the name of the grouping was officially changed as BIMST-EC. As a member of the grouping, Myanmar hope to achieve positive results from economic cooperation among member countries and the programme for transfer of research and technology. Myanmar participateed in the Third BIMST-EC Trade and Economic Ministers Meeting and hosted the Fourth BIMST-EC Ministerial and Senior Officials Meetings in December 2001.
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