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EU Foreign Policy Chief Meets With Burmese Opposition Leader

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) walks next to European Union Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton after their meeting and news conference in front of the National League for Democracy head office in Rangoon, April 28, 2012.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton has met with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.

Standing next to the Nobel Peace laureate at a news conference Saturday in Burma's main city, Ashton urged the Burmese government to continue its progress toward democracy.

Ashton also opened a new EU office in Rangoon to oversee the management of aid programs and to handle political matters. Standing next to a smiling Aung San Suu Kyi, she cut through a blue ribbon to signify that the office was officially open. Onlookers applauded and took pictures.

Her visit comes just days after the EU suspended a wide range of trade, economic and individual sanctions against the long-isolated country.

On Monday, Ashton will meet with President Thein Sein and other officials in the administrative capital, Naypyidaw.

In a statement Friday, Ashton said the EU had decided to open a new chapter in relations, although she added that reforms need to continue and the EU needs to see further progress, in particular the unconditional release of all political prisoners and efforts to end ethnic conflicts.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.