News / Asia

US: Clinton to Press for Follow-Through on Reforms in Burma

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers her speech during ASEAN Business and Investment Summit held on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, November 18, 2011.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers her speech during ASEAN Business and Investment Summit held on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, November 18, 2011.

The State Department said Friday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s groundbreaking visit to Burma early next month will be a test of the Burmese government’s stated commitments to democratic reforms. Among other things, Clinton will press authorities to release all the country’s political prisoners.

Officials here are stressing President Obama’s comment at the East Asian summit in Bali that reform moves by Burma represent only “flickers of progress” and that Clinton’s mission will be to test the government’s willingness to go farther.

Clinton’s visit, announced in Bali, will be the first by a secretary of state to the reclusive Southeast Asian nation in more than 50 years.

It caps a process of increasing dialogue between the United States and Burma that began when a nominally-civilian government took power in March after decades of military rule.

At a news briefing, State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said there will be no surprises in Clinton’s agenda in Burma.

He said she will stress the need for authorities to follow through with a reform agenda that has included the release of, and dialogue with, opposition leader and former detainee Aung San Suu Kyi.

“What we want to see is the release of all political prisoners, and we want to see amended electoral laws, we want to see an opening of the political system there that allows for free and fair elections," said Toner. "That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for an opening up of the political space.”

Burma released 200 political prisoners earlier this year.  

Human rights groups and Burmese democracy activists have faulted the Burmese authorities for releasing only a fraction of what was estimated earlier this year to be some 2,000 people being held for political reasons.

But the activists have generally welcomed U.S. outreach including the Clinton visit.

Jennifer Quigley, advocacy director of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma, said the group welcomes the Obama administration’s increased focus on Burma, including the naming last April of a special envoy for Burma, Derek Mitchell.

Quigley commended the administration for withholding major concessions to Burma, including a lifting of sanctions, until there is tangible political change.

“What’s been good thus far is that Ambassador Mitchell, and we hope that continues with Secretary Clinton, is that they maintain that level of ‘we’re not going to give you something until we really see some concrete irreversible changes.’  And the release of 200 political prisoners just doesn’t do it," said Quigley.

Quigley said her group hopes for the release of a large number of additional political prisoners, if not all of them, in the run-up to the Clinton visit as a sign of good faith.

The United States imposed a near total ban on U.S. trade with Burma during the Bush administration because of political repression by the previous military government.

It maintains diplomatic relations with Burma but at a sub-ambassadorial level and has not accepted the former government’s change of the country’s official name to Myanmar.

State Department spokesman Toner said the administration has not yet approached Congress about lifting sanctions and believes the name issue is a matter to be decided by the Burmese people.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid