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US has ‘open channel’ with Burma on human rights

After human right talks with Burma this week, the US said it now has an “open channel” to discuss political prisoners and other sensitive subjects as ties improve, officials said on Wednesday.

Michael Posner at a press conference in Geneva, in this file photo. Photo: US MissionMichael Posner, the State Department's top human rights official, led a US team at the talks in Naypyitaw.

“The results of the dialogue were assessed to be very positive and we look forward to continuing these discussions with Burmese authorities,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing in Washington.

“We weren't sure whether the Burmese would be open to addressing all of those issues, and they were,” Nuland said.

The high-level US delegation also included Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vikram Singh and other U.S. military officials, a signal that the Pentagon is linking human rights to improved military cooperation with Burma.

Burma released its latest group of political prisoners last month, just before President Thein Sein and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited the United States on separate trips.

“We have all spoken out about the need to get to zero in terms of political prisoners, and we're continuing to work with the government of Burma on that,” Nuland said.

The United States has also expressed concern over ongoing fighting with ethnic minority groups and violence against ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's western Rakhine State, as well as the government's continued military ties with North Korea, officials said.

Activists said the United States has pressed Burma consistently on human rights but now warn that a surge in economic and other ties could push the issue down the priority list.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 October 2012 13:12 )  

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