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Burma approves Mitchell as U.S. ambassador

The Burmese government has agreed to the appointment of U.S. Ambassador Derek Mitchell, the first full ambassador to the country in 22 years, state-run media reported on Friday.

Ambassador Derek Mitchell, U.S. policy coordinator for Burma. Photo: U.S. State DepartmentThe U.S. move is in recognition of the reforms put in place during the past year and the release of significant numbers of political prisoners, although up to several hundred are believed to remain in jail.

The move is another effort to normalize releations between the two countries. Mitchell last visited Burma in May on his fifth mission.

During June, Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington and sought progress in easing more U.S. economic sanctions.

Other U.S. officials who have visited Burma recently include Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. John MaCain in an effort to improve relations that were severed more than two decades ago, leading to sanctions. Some significant sanctions were suspended in April.

Mitchell, 47, an expert on Asian affairs was President Barack Obama's special representative and policy coordinator for Burma, and he is well-known among Burmese officials.

While significant U.S. sanctions against certain financial transactions and travel restrictions have been suspended, import trade sanctions remain in place, along with arms sales.

Recently, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank have been working closely with Burma to renew engagement in the country, moves stemming from the removal of U.S. financial sanctions.

Businessmen, foreign governments and private groups are renewing ties with the current government in preparation to resume activities.

As a sign of the times, two iconic companies, Coke Cola and 7-Eleven, announced that they setting up operations in Burma.
Last Updated ( Monday, 09 July 2012 18:05 )  

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