Myanmar leader says clearing debt is first stage in escaping least-developed nation status

Myanmar's reformist president says the country's recent clearing of billions of dollars of foreign debt is its first step toward ending its least-developed nation status.

Thein Sein said in his second radio address to the nation on Friday that his government has successfully negotiated with international financial institutions and donor countries to clear more than $6 billion in decades-old foreign debt.

He said he told parliament he would try his best to help Myanmar's economy grow and end its least-developed nation status, and clearing the debt was the first stage in achieving this.

Clearing the debt will allow Myanmar access to new much-needed aid to jumpstart its lagging economy.

Myanmar, then called Burma, was declared a least-developed nation by the United Nations in 1987.