Britain's Johnson to visit Myanmar, says democratic transition not yet complete

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson walks into Downing Street, in London, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who will visit Myanmar on Friday, said the former British colony's transition to democracy was not yet complete but that Britain would offer its full support as a friend.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has faced criticism abroad for her government's handling of a crisis in the Muslim-majority Rakhine region, where soldiers have blocked access for aid workers and are accused of raping and killing civilians.

"Burma’s transition to democracy is not yet complete but it is worth reflecting on just how far Burma has come since Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party took office just nine months ago," Johnson said in a statement.

"The UK, as a longstanding and long term friend to Burma, will continue to offer its fullest support," he said. "I look forward to seeing Burma continue to develop into a country where there is peace and prosperity for all its people."

On the visit, the first to Myanmar by a British foreign minister in five years, Johnson will meet leader Suu Kyi, members of the Rakhine Commission and leaders of different ethnic groups to discuss the peace process.

Britain's Foreign Office has previously expressed concern about the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.

Suu Kyi's government has denied any abuses have taken place.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)