Ban welcomes release of Myanmar pol prisoners

United Nations: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the "long-awaited" release of Myanmar`s political prisoners and called upon the international community to respond to the "important developments" in the country by helping sustain its reform process.

Terming the release of political prisoners the "most significant" to date, Ban expressed hope that all those released will now be able to contribute freely to the process of national reconciliation, as well as to the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law within Myanmar.

The Secretary-General also "calls upon the international community to respond to these important developments within Myanmar by helping build conditions for sustaining the reform process and for the betterment of its peoples," the spokesperson for the Secretary-General said in a statement.

Ban noted the efforts being made by Myanmar authorities for renewed peace with the armed ethnic groups including the preliminary ceasefire between the authorities and the Karen National Union as well as the initial peace agreements with other groups.

He "welcomes these efforts and encourages all concerned to build on recent progress and to work, through an all-inclusive dialogue, for an end to hostilities throughout the country, national reconciliation, stability and development for all the people of Myanmar".

The UN chief`s remarks come as the US announced it will resume full diplomatic relations with the South East Asian country, sending an American ambassador back for the first time in more than two decades.

About 650 prisoners, who had been protesting against the country`s military rulers, were released today.