By Shibani Mahtani and James Hookway Reuters Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros speaks at the Central European University in Budapest in November. Billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist George Soros is scheduled to become the next big international name to meet with Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday in a fresh sign that the country is continuing to open up to the outside world. Nyan Win, spokesman for Ms.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy said Friday that the two are scheduled to meet in Yangon on Jan. 2 and that they will likely discuss the ongoing work of Mr.
Soros’s charitable foundation in the country.
The U.S.-based financier’s Open Society Foundation donates around $2 million a year to projects in the country, often supporting educational programs and scholarships, and he is believed to be touring some of those projects this week with members of his family. Mr.
Soros, 81 years old, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. His visit follows the early December visit of Hillary of Clinton, who became the first U.S.
Secretary of State to visit the country in over 50 years.
That trip helped further warm the blossoming relations between the two countries since Myanmar’s military rulers handed power to a new, nominally civilian government in March.
Since then, the country has made tentative steps towards implementing a broader democracy, including freeing hundreds of political prisoners, engaging with long-persecuted ethnic minorities and allowing Ms.
Suu Kyi’s political group to contest elections after she was detained for years under house arrest. Government advisers have described the reforms “irreversible” and the U.S. has responded by lifting a block on development assistance to the country , effectively freeing up specialists from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to help Myanmar officials liberalize their ossified economy.
The Indonesian and Japanese foreign ministers also have visited Myanmar in the past week. William Hague, Britain’s foreign secretary, is scheduled to visit the country next week. U.S. and European Union, though, continue to impose strict sanctions on the country and are pressing Myanmar’s government to release all of the some 2,000 political prisoners still believed to be held in detention.
That prevents Mr.
Soros from investing in the country, if he wanted to do so. Local media reports , meanwhile, say that Mr.
Soros will also take in sights at popular tourist destinations such as Inle Lake and Bagan.