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

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid