07/23/2011 10:48 EDT | Updated 09/22/2011 05:12 EDT

Canada Begins Engagement With Myanmar: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird


THE CANADIAN PRESS -- TORONTO - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada has begun a strategic engagement with Myanmar that includes an exchange of ambassadors.

He says the "limited engagement" is focused exclusively on human rights and that Ottawa is urging the government to release thousands of political prisoners from jail.

But the minister ruled out an early end to the economic sanctions imposed against Myanmar, also known as Burma, in 2007.

Baird was speaking from Bali, Indonesia, where he attended a regional security forum this week.

The minister says he raised the issue of human rights during a meeting with his counterpart from Myanmar.

Myanmar held elections late last year, officially handing power to a civilian administration after a half-century of military rule.