News / Asia

US Sending Senior Diplomat to Meet New Burmese Government

The United States is sending a senior diplomat for “introductory” talks with leaders of Burma’s new, nominally-civilian, government. The new government was seated in late March to replace a military junta but U.S. officials say the military retains effective control.

Officials here say the dispatch of the diplomat to Burma does not reflect any easing of the critical U.S. view of the political changes there, but that the Obama administration remains committed to trying dialogue with Burma.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Joseph Yun is due to leave Washington Wednesday for a visit to Burma spanning three days.

The senior diplomat last visited Burma in December and so his visit his week will be the first since the new government was sworn in on March 30th.

The military junta that ruled Burma for decades ceded power at that time, following a national election in November that was widely criticized as a sham.

A quarter of the seats in the new parliament were set aside for military officers and more than half of the remaining seats were won by a pro-military party.

Announcing the Yun visit, State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said the United States still considers the political process in Burma badly flawed and does not approach this week’s talks with any illusions. “It’s consistent with our two-track approach to Burma. There’s nothing [unduly optimistic] about this. We recognize that there’s some fairly serious challenges to address in this relationship. But we’re going to continue to pursue a dual-track policy that involves pressure, but also principled engagement," he said.

A senior official who spoke to reporters said that in addition to meeting government officials and civil society members, Yun will try to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was freed last November after spending most of the previous 20 years in detention.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party won Burmese elections in 1990 but was barred by the military from taking power. The November elections were largely boycotted by the opposition.

In a notice to Congress Monday, President Barack Obama renewed U.S. economic sanctions against Burma, including a near-total trade ban, that would have otherwise expired this month.

The routine extension notice said Burma is still engaged in actions hostile to U.S. interests including the large-scale repression of the democratic opposition.

The State Department also Monday dismissed a limited clemency program announced by Burmese President Thein Sein that would among other things cut sentences for all Burmese prisoners by a year.

It said Burma should immediately free all of the country’s estimated 2,200 political prisoners.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid