News / Asia

    Obama, Burmese President Discuss Way Forward for Reforms

    In White House Talks, Burma's President Pledges Further Reformsi
    X
    May 21, 2013 12:14 PM
    President Barack Obama and Burma's President Thein Sein discussed progress of reforms and difficult problems such as ethnic conflicts and religious strife in talks Monday at the White House. VOA senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports.
    In White House Talks, Burma's President Pledges Further Reforms
    At the White House, President Barack Obama and Burma's President, Thein Sein, discussed political and economic reforms in Burma, human rights and the importance of resolving the country's ethnic conflicts and religious tensions.

    It was the first White House visit by a Burmese president since 1966 and came as Obama closely monitors the outcomes of an engagement process he began with Burma in 2009, months after his election.

    Most U.S. economic sanctions against Burma have been lifted or relaxed.  Obama made a historic visit to Burma last November.

    Burmese president Thien Sein hosted a town hall meeting at VOA in Washington, DC, May 19, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)Burmese president Thien Sein hosted a town hall meeting at VOA in Washington, DC, May 19, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
    x
    Burmese president Thien Sein hosted a town hall meeting at VOA in Washington, DC, May 19, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
    Burmese president Thien Sein hosted a town hall meeting at VOA in Washington, DC, May 19, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
    Obama said the shift in relations was made possible by President Thein Sein's leadership in moving down a path of political and economic reform.

    He said Thein Sein shared his plans for what comes next on "a long journey" with much work to be done.

    "The manner in which he intends to continue to move forward on releasing more political prisoners, making sure that the government of Myanmar institutionalizes some of the political reforms that have already taken place, how rule of law is codified so that it continues into the future and the process whereby these ethnic conflicts that have existed are resolved, not simply by a ceasefire, but an actual incorporation of all these communities into the political process," Obama said.

    President Thein Sein referred to past "difficulties" in relations.  Burma, he said, is in an early stage of democracy with much to learn, is determined to move forward, and needs help.

    • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Burma's President Thein Sein at the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, May 20, 2013. 
    • President Barack Obama sits with Burma's President Thein Sein in the Oval Office at the White House, Washington, May 20, 2013.
    • Burmese President Thein Sein is given flowers outside a town hall meeting at Voice of America, Washington, May 19, 2013. (Alison Klein for VOA)
    • Burmese President Thein Sein attends a town hall meeting at Voice of America, Washington, May 19, 2013. (Alison Klein for VOA)
    • Protesters outside the Voice of America prior to Burmese president Thein Sein's visit, May 19, 2013. (Alison Klein for VOA)
    • Burmese President Thein Sein attends a town hall meeting at Voice of America, Washington, May 19, 2013. (Alison Klein for VOA)
    "For democracy to flourish in our country we will have to move forward and we will have to undertake reforms, political reforms and economic reforms in the years ahead.  We are trying our best with our own efforts to have political and economic reforms in our country but along this path we will also need assistance and understanding from the international community, including the United States," Sein said.

    The Burmese leader said the discussions covered the rule of law, strengthening of the judiciary system, economic problems and the need to assist Burma's military and police in becoming professional forces.

    President Obama urged President Thein Sein to take stronger action to halt violence directed against Muslims in western Burma.

    "I also shared with President Thein Sein our deep concern about communal violence that has been directed at Muslim communities inside of Myanmar.  The displacement of people, the violence directed against them, needs to stop and we are prepared to work in any ways that we can with both the Government of Myanmar and the international community to ensure that people are getting the help that they need, but more importantly that their rights and their dignity is recognized over the long term," Obama said.

    Outside the White House, demonstrators protested what they called genocide against Muslims in Burma's Rakhine State, and for an end to government military campaigns against the Kachin people.

    Soe Kyi Tha, who has lived in the United States for more than two decades, said the Burmese government needs to halt all violence directed against Rohingyas.

    "They have to promise that all citizens of Burma are under the law, they cannot just protect the Buddhists in every possible way and neglect all the ethnic minorities, which includes Christian minorities also," Tha said.

    Alex Oo represents the Burmese Muslim Civil Rights Association.

    "They [the Burmese government] are not doing their job, especially Thein Sein, he is the president.  His responsibility is to take care of the whole country, no matter Kachin, Karen, Shan, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist," Oo said.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained a change in which Obama administration statements have begun using Myanmar to describe Burma.

    Carney said the U.S. government has allowed "limited use" of the description as a signal to encourage reforms by the Thein Sein government.

    "While we are not changing our policy to officially adopt Myanmar, we believe that showing respect for a government that is pursuing an ambitious reform program and a government that is pursuing that agenda is an important signal for it efforts and our desire to help the transformation succeed, but our policy remains that Burma is the name of the country," Carney said.

    In another appearance later Monday, Thein Sein said his government is working to peacefully end armed conflicts, end Burma's isolation, and achieve the removal of all sanctions.

    He said Burma faces tremendous challenges in moving toward being a state that is first and foremost a servant of the people, no easy task, he said, after decades of authoritarian rule.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora