Thursday, 21 November 2019

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Clinton, Suu Kyi exchange views on ‘fragile’ reforms

(Mizzima) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton telephoned Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday to review developments in Burma and to discuss the recent U.S. decision regarding sanctions.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met at her house in Rangoon on December, 2011. Photo: Mizzima
Clinton has said that Suu Kyi’s views help guide the U.S. in its policy decisions regarding Burma.

They talked about the need for specific steps to promote responsible, transparent investments, empower reformers, and target abusers, according to a statement on the State Department website.

Clinton and Suu Kyi agreed that the important progress of the past several months remains “fragile,” the statement said, and that the international community needs to help protect against backsliding by government officials and ministries in Burma. The U.S., E.U. and many other nations have lifted or eased sanctions against Burma in the past month.

Clinton assured Suu Kyi that the United States is keeping its sanction authorities in place “as an insurance policy” if there is a failure in continued reforms.

They also discussed the urgent need for progress in resolving the country’s long-simmering ethnic conflicts in Burma and ending human rights abuses in the ethnic areas.

On November 17, 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Suu Kyi  and reviewed the progress that had been made in Burma, including her release from house arrest, her dialogue with the government, the release of some political prisoners, and legislation that could open the political system further. The president was seeking assurance from Suu Kyi that she welcomed a deeper engagement with Burma by the U.S.

In December 2011, Clinton visited Burma, opening a new chapter in U.S.-Burma relations. Burma’s overriding goal was a lifting of Western economic sanctions, which took place last week following the April 1 by-elections in which Suu Kyi was elected a Member of Parliament.

Clinton's historic journey was a culmination of behind-the-scenes overtures since Obama told the world's despotic regimes in 2009 that the “US will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

During the next several years, Burma released pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi from house arrest, installed an elected government, and opened a dialogue with Suu Kyi, offering Washington just enough of an opening to re-engage.  The U.S. named a full ambassador to Burma, Derek Mitchell, last week.

Meanwhile, two key sticking points remain: the release of all political prisoners in Burmese jails and an end to ethnic fighting and a secure peace.

For Burma, better U.S. relations offer a potential flow of badly needed aid and over time even a military relationship with access to U.S. technology and expertise. Better relations also would allow Burma to play off its dependency on China, its prime benefactor in investments and lucrative energy deals involving oil, gas and hydropower. Burma benefits from its strategic position between India, China and Southeast Asia.

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