Harper meets with Burmese government-in-exile leader Sein Win

This afternoon (May 7), Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Burma’s prime minister-in-exile Sein Win.

According to a Canadian Friends of Burma media release, it was the first time a Canadian prime minister has ever met with the Win, whose official position is chairman of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.

On May 2, a cyclone tore through Burma (also known as Myanmar) and left much of the country devastated by heavy winds and flooding. As of May 7, more than 22,000 people were reported killed and 41,000 missing, according to a BBC News report.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, told the Straight in a telephone interview that Sein had requested a meeting with Harper “as a courtesy”, and that the prime minister accepted.

Following is a media release from the Canadian Friends of Burma. Stewart-Olsen confirmed that a meeting between Harper and Win did take place and that Canadian aid to Burma was discussed. She could not confirm further particulars by press time.

Canadian Prime Minister met with Dr. Sein Win, Burma’s exiled Prime MinisterM

May 07, 2008

Ottawa – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met Burma’s Prime Minister in exile Dr. Sein Win in his parliament office this afternoon. Dr. Sein Win requested the Canadian Prime Minister to coordinate the international relief effort for the ongoing disaster in Burma with like-minded countries.

The two leaders also discussed the food crisis that 142,000 Burmese refugees are facing along the Thai-Burma border and Dr. Win also sought Canada’s help to alleviate the looming crisis on the border.

Dr. Win also urged Canada to host the 4th Congress of Members of Parliament Union (Burma) this fall

Dr. Win Sein was accompanied by Mika Leveque (Rights and Democracy), Peter Gillespie (Inter Pares) and Tin Maung Htoo (Canadian Friends of Burma). Mr. Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism was also presence during the meeting.

This is the first time a Prime Minister of Canada has ever met the leader of Burma’s government in exile.