Myanmar leader to visit London and Paris 'within days'

Myanmar's President Thein Sein will embark on a four-day visit to Britain and France within days, an official said Tuesday, as the international community continues to welcomes reforms in the former junta-ruled country.

"The president will go to Britain and France from July 14 to 18," a presidential office official told AFP on condition of anonymity without giving further details of the visit, Thein Sein's second trip to Europe in months.

The president's spokesman Ye Htut was unable to confirm the dates.

Thein Sein visited several European countries in March -- although not Britain or France -- to seek support for reforms that he has overseen since taking the presidency in 2011.

Those changes include freeing some political prisoners and welcoming democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party into parliament.

The European Union last month readmitted Myanmar to its trade preference scheme, saying it wanted to support reform in the once-pariah state through economic development.

The EU had already ditched most sanctions against the country, although an arms embargo remains.

Washington has also lifted most embargoes and foreign companies are now eager to enter the resource-rich nation, with its perceived frontier market of some 60 million potential consumers.

Barack Obama paid a first-ever US presidential visit to Myanmar last November, and Thein Sein visited Washington in May.