Downer Visit

source : All Media

- It will also be the first visit of an Australian foreign affairs minister since Bill Hayden included Burma on a sweep of southeast Asia in 1983.
- It will be his first visit to Burma since he was a seven-year-old accompanying his father, Sir Alexander, then immigration minister, on an official visit.
- Arriving in Yangon Wednesday (02-Septemebr -02) for the 24-hour visit
- Not allow Australian journalists to cover Alexander Downer's trip- Mr Downer said the decision was a "disappointment" but "it is important to still get there and give our message"
- Downer said that Razali who has won the trust and confidence on both sides of Myanmar's political divide, had urged him to visit the country.
- Downer is the latest in a series of high-profile visits to Myanmar in recent months, including Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi in August.
- Downer said Australia could play a role in Burma's transition due to its close geographic proximity and "regional perspective.""We have much heavier engagement with (Southeast Asian) countries than any so-called Western country," he said.
- Australia donated money to fight HIV /AIDS among intravenous drug users in Myanmar.
- On Wednesday, Downer met with three of the people most crucial to Burma's future, junta leader Gen. Than Shwe, military intelligence chief Gen. Khin Nyunt and Aung San Suu Kyi

Meeting with GenThan shwe

- ``They told me they were committed [to reforms], but did not give a timeframe,'' he said.
- Instead of indicating his plans for the future, General Than Shwe gave Mr Downer a summary of Burma's modern history, and why the military leadership was needed to quell insurgencies by ethnic groups.
- "He said the security situation is under control now. It was time to move on towards constitutional reform, and he wanted the military to take a lesser role in society and the governance of the country," Mr Downer said.
- Mr Downer requested Burmese leaders allow NGO representatives and NLD members to take part in a human-rights workshop.

Meeting with Gen Khin Nyint

- "He said they thought the National League for Democracy had become more reasonable and constructive and they wanted to continue the dia- logue with them and they wanted to continue the process of constitutional reform and slow, steady moves towards democracy," Mr Downer said.
- He had stressed to General Khin Nyunt the importance of the regime matching its words with action.
- " Khin Nyunt said that he understood only too clearly the links between politics and economics and economics and politics," he said.

Meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi
- He discussed the wide-ranging sanctions which have crushed Myanmar's economy.
- Ms Suu Kyi also told Alexander Downer that she was doubtful for both Australia's human rights program in Burma, and her dialogue with the generals.
- "She was sceptical about whether (the generals) would enter into genuine dialogue, which we might reinterpret as genuine negotiations, with the NLD," Mr Downer said.