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McConnell says more democratic changes needed

(Mizzima) – U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, one of the toughest critics of Burma’s previous military government, says after a few more concrete moves toward democracy it’s right to consider removing U.S. sanctions, following a one-hour meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday.

U.S. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to the press at the home of Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, January 16, 2012. He said the U.S. will respond in kind regarding sanctions if democracy reforms continue to occur in Burma. He meets with President Thein Sein on Tuesday.  Photo: Mizzima
The U.S. senate will also consider the appointment of a full-time ambassador, he said, during a press conference at the home of Suu Kyi.

McConnell has talked to Suu Kyi multiple time on the telephone, but he said he was “delighted” to meet her fact-to-face.
“There is, however, as everyone knows, much left to be done,” he said. “I think the improved relations with the various ethnic minorities are the most important thing we want to focus on at this point.”

Last week’s cease-fire with the Karen was a significant step forward, and should be followed by “progress made with other ethnic groups,” McConnell said.

He said the U.S. also looked forward to free and fair by-elections on April 1.

McConnell said the release of all political prisoners, ethnic peace discussions on political issues and free and fair April 1 elections would merit consideration of removal of sanctions. The sanctions restrict U.S. trade, investment and foreign aid to Burma.

Suu Kyi said McConnell was a committed supporter of democracy. “That is why I trust his judgment and I know that he will be watching the situation closely to find out what needs to be done, and as a seasoned democratic politician, he'll be able to judge how far we are progressing along the road to democratization,” she said.

The Republican minority leader will also meet with President Thein Sein on Tuesday. He said the support of democracy in Burma is based on U.S. values, and is not a matter of politics. U.S. Senator John McCain, also a Republican, will visit Burma in the coming days.
Last Updated ( Monday, 16 January 2012 20:32 )  

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