News / Asia

US Will Post Ambassador in Burma; Move Follows Prisoner Release

A woman hugs her son who came out of Myanmar's Insein prison in Rangoon, Burma, January 3, 2012.
A woman hugs her son who came out of Myanmar's Insein prison in Rangoon, Burma, January 3, 2012.

The United States, for the first time in two decades, announced Friday that it will post an ambassador to Burma, which earlier in the day freed hundreds of political prisoners. A series of reforms in Burma has prompted Washington to change how it deals with the country.

U.S. President Barack Obama calls Burma's decision to release hundreds of political prisoners "a substantial step forward for democratic reform."

The Burmese government freed 651 prisoners on Friday. The release is in line with conditions for improving relations with Washington that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear during a visit last month.

Following the prisoner release, Clinton said on Friday that the U.S. will start the process of exchanging ambassadors with Burma.

"As I said last December, the United States will meet action with action. Based on the steps taken so far, we will now begin," she said.

But Obama and Clinton both said that more political reforms need to happen in Burma.

Clinton says Washington will continue to urge Burma’s government to take “bold steps” to build a free and prosperous nation.

Washington withdrew its ambassador more than 20 years ago, after the military council ruling Burma at the time ignored the results of the opposition’s overwhelming victory in the 1990 election.

The U.S. and many other governments, including the European Union, have long imposed economic and travel sanctions on Burma, considered one of the most repressive nations in the world.

An election in 2010 brought in a civilian government, although one backed by the military.

That new government has made several reforms, including easing media restrictions and allowing greater civil liberties.

Photo Gallery: Burma prisoner release

This week the government also signed a ceasefire with the ethnic minority Karen rebels.

In addition, Burma’s government is allowing opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to run for parliament April 1. Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the National League for Democracy, has spent most of the past 22 years jailed or under house arrest.

Burma hopes the prisoner release and the peace deal will help improve relations with the international community.

David Mathieson, with Human Rights Watch, says the release is important.

"You're talking about quite a comprehensive list of prominent political activists, journalists, labor activists, Buddhist monks and former members of the government," he said. "So this is really quite a significant release."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the prisoner release and the cease-fire with the rebels. He said he hoped the freed political activists will be able to contribute to national reconciliation.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid