NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar — When he addresses Myanmar's Parliament today, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon plans to urge Western nations to lift or suspend their remaining sanctions against the country.
He will be the first foreigner to address the Parliament since at least the beginning of military rule in 1962. A new constitution and moves toward political reform have revived the legislature, which was moribund for decades.
In his address, Ban is expected to emphasize the country's need for international aid, at a time when Western assistance is threatened by budget cuts.
"This is a new Myanmar," Ban said Sunday, soon after arriving in Naypyidaw, the capital.
"It's very easy to say we will support you in political terms," Ban said, referring to foreign governments. "But it should be followed by concrete social and economic support."
Last week, the European Union suspended all its sanctions on Myanmar except an arms embargo. The United States has eased some of its sanctions, but some major ones remain, including a ban on new investment.
Ban is the latest foreign dignitary to visit Myanmar in recent weeks as the country, also known as Burma, moves from military dictatorship to civilian rule and the beginnings of democracy.
The occasion of Ban's speech will be notable for the absence of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the country's democracy movement.
She and other members of her party, the National League for Democracy, have refused to take the seats they recently won in the Parliament because of a dispute over the wording of the oath of office.