News / Asia

US Ambassador to Burma Sees Growing Ties Between Countries

Derek Mitchell, the U.S ambassador to Burma, talks to journalists during the first press conference after he became ambassador at the U.S Embassy in Rangoon, Burma, July 20, 2012.Derek Mitchell, the U.S ambassador to Burma, talks to journalists during the first press conference after he became ambassador at the U.S Embassy in Rangoon, Burma, July 20, 2012.
x
Derek Mitchell, the U.S ambassador to Burma, talks to journalists during the first press conference after he became ambassador at the U.S Embassy in Rangoon, Burma, July 20, 2012.
Derek Mitchell, the U.S ambassador to Burma, talks to journalists during the first press conference after he became ambassador at the U.S Embassy in Rangoon, Burma, July 20, 2012.
VOA News
The U.S. ambassador to Burma says there is "excellent momentum" in the relationship between the United States and Burma, but acknowledged there are enormous challenges ahead.
 
Derek Mitchell told VOA that his new appointment demonstrates Washington's commitment to building the relationship. Mitchell arrived in Burma earlier this month as the first U.S. ambassador to that country in 22 years.
 
"My appointment, whether it is me or anyone else - the fact that there is an ambassador for the first time in 22 years - I think speaks to the commitment now of this administration, of the United States generally, even our Congress, to take the relationship to another level,” said Mitchell.
 
The United States has been re-engaging Burma after a new, nominally civilian government took over in March of last year and began implementing reforms. Mitchell said his office would be responding to positive changes in Burma.
 
"Clearly, we have said from the start - really a year ago, we can even start in 2009 - that we are going to be responding to changes that occur on the ground,” he said. “That we will be responding for action with action. And we have seen continuing action, continuing momentum towards reform. And I think we are trying to keep up with that."
 
Mitchell acknowledged that Burma faces many challenges to becoming a democratic country.
 
"It is premature to say that all is well or that this process is inevitably going to lead towards a positive or stable solution. As you lay out, there are enormous challenges that lay ahead,” said Mitchell. “Nobody has any illusions about the challenges to come, or the challenges of keeping unity or democracy in line. The key is to keep moving in the right direction. And move step by step."
 
Mitchell said he has many goals in his new role, including traveling the country to begin to build a better relationship.
 
"I want to get around the country, meet all different types of people from every different section of Burma. I think that is very important to build that understanding because we have been separated for so long," he said.
 
Mitchell said he also will work to encourage an open and free media in Burma, and help to facilitate more military contacts between the United States and Burma.
 
Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced it is easing restrictions on U.S. companies interested in doing business in Burma. A White House statement said easing such sanctions will provide immediate incentives for reformers and benefit the Burmese people.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs