Monday, 18 November 2019

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US diplomat meets junta minister

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Keen to strike a balance between the government and the opposition, the Charge d’Affairs of the US embassy in Rangoon Larry M. Dinger last week met Burmese junta’s Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation Maj Gen Htay Oo.

The meeting with the junta’s minister came days after the US representative met leaders of the country’s opposition party the National League for Democracy.

Burma’s state-run media, the New Light of Myanmar said on Monday, Htay Oo, who is also the General Secretary of the junta-backed civilian organization – the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), received Dinger on Saturday, three days after he visited the office of the NLD and met the party leadership.

The newspaper, dubbed the junta’s mouthpiece, however, did not mention details of the meeting between Htay Oo and Dinger.

On Tuesday Dinger met central executive committee members of the NLD. He discussed the current political situation in Burma and the new US policy on the country as part of the preparation for a visit by the Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell.

Khin Maung Swe, an NLD-CEC member said, Dinger informed them that Campbell is to visit the country soon. He was also keen to know the NLD’s view of the new US policy.

United States last month announced a new policy on Burma, and kick-started a fresh strategy of engaging the junta while keeping sanctions in place. On September 29, Campbell held his first meeting with Burmese Minister for Science and Technology, U Thaung in New York.

Campbell, in his testimony at the Foreign Affairs Committee, on Wednesday said he intends to go to Burma in the next few weeks on a fact-finding mission.

“During the trip, we will talk to the Burmese government, representatives of the ethnic nationalities, and the democratic opposition, including the National League for Democracy “Uncles” and Aung San Suu Kyi,” Campbell said.

The new engagement with the US, which has maintained sanctions on the Burmese Generals, has been applauded by the junta’s Southeast Asian neighbours, who at the end of the two-day ASEAN Summit in Thailand on Sunday expressed rare optimism about the regime.

During the Summit, Burmese Prime Minister was reported to have assured the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their dialogue partners that the planned 2010 elections would be free and fair. Thein Sein also said they could relax the detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, if she maintains a “good attitude”.

But critics believe that it could be yet another ploy of the junta in attempting to ease international pressure.


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