Norway’s royal couple begin state visit to Myanmar

At the invitation of U Thein Sein, the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and his wife, Daw Khin Khin Win, their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway will pay an official state visit to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from 1 to 5 December.

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway and Her Majesty Queen Sonja being welcomed by Rangoon Region Chief Minister Myint Swe at the airport on Sunday afternoon. (PHOTO: Burmese state media)

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway and Her Majesty Queen Sonja being welcomed by Rangoon Region Chief Minister Myint Swe at the airport on Sunday afternoon. (PHOTO: Burmese state media)

The main purpose of the visit is to highlight Norway’s longstanding support of the on-going reform process in the country. An important topic will be further developing the bilateral relations between Norway and Myanmar, for example in the areas of development cooperation and business cooperation.

The King and Queen will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Børge Brende, Minister of Trade and Industry Ms Monica Mæland, State Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy Mr Kåre Fostervold, State Secretary in the Ministry of Climate and Environment Lars Mr Andreas Lunde, and Anita Krohn Traaseth, CEO of Innovation Norway.

During the visit, the King and Queen will meet President U Thein Sein, Speaker of Myanmar’s Union Parliament Thura U Shwe Mann, and the Chair of Parliamentary Committee on Rule of Law, Peace and Tranquillity and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Meetings with civil society organisations are also being planned. While in Myanmar, HM King Harald will deliver a speech on democratic development at the University of Yangon. The King and Queen will also participate in the official opening of the Centre of Excellence for Greening/ASEAN Institute for Green Productivity, which receives funding from Norway.

Before the King and Queen arrive in Myanmar, Foreign Minister Børge Brende will have talks with a number of people on Norway’s support for the peace process in the country in the time ahead, including the minister responsible for the peace process, U Aung Min, and leaders of some of the ethnic groups participating in the peace process.

‘Right from the beginning, Norway has been an active supporter of the far-reaching process of reforms and democratisation in Myanmar. The forthcoming state visit highlights the close relations that have developed between Norway and Myanmar. Since Myanmar’s next general election is in 2015, the coming year will be crucial for the future development of the country. Norway will continue to support the process of reforms,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

In addition to taking part in the programme for the state visit, Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland will have talks on business sector cooperation with the Myanmar authorities. Prior to the state visit, Ms Mæland will visit local mobile phone distributors, together with the head of Telenor’s Asia operations, Mr Sigve Brekke. Telenor is one of the first major companies to invest in Myanmar, and it has just launched mobile phone services in the country.

‘I am keen to explore how Norwegian companies can help to develop important infrastructure, use natural resources sustainably, and in general contribute to positive developments in Myanmar. Norway places great emphasis on the principles of corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and decent work. Norwegian companies establishing operations in Myanmar can set a good example for local companies, by setting high standards for corporate conduct,’ said Ms Mæland.

Altogether, 70 representatives of around 40 Norwegian companies will participate in the state visit. The business programme has been tailored to Myanmar’s immediate needs, first and foremost in the area of energy, with a focus on renewables and on oil and gas, but also in the area of telecommunications.

‘Norwegian companies can help to find socially responsible solutions, and can provide technological and business expertise that can generate more jobs for the local population and ensure sustainable development for Myanmar. Innovation Norway is seeking to make sure that Norwegian companies use their expertise and their competitive advantage abroad,’ said Ms Krohn Traaseth.

Source: Norwegian Embassy in Myanmar

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