Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday met Myanmar`s Aung San Suu Kyi and told her that the flickers of progress in her country have grown and strengthened, but emphasised that the reforms must continue.
"Those flickers of progress that (the US) President (Barack) Obama spoke of a year ago have been growing and strengthening in the time since," Clinton said in her address at an event organized here to honour Suu Kyi.
This was Suu Kyi`s first public appearance after she arrived in Washington a day earlier on a 17-day US tour.
"We in the State Department and in the Obama administration are certainly the first to say that the process of reform must continue. Political prisoners remain in detention. Ongoing ethnic and sectarian violence continues to undermine progress toward national reconciliation, stability and lasting peace.
"Some military contacts with North Korea persist. And further reforms are required to strengthen the rule of law, increase transparency and address constitutional challenges," Clinton said in her brief remarks.
Earlier in the day, Clinton met Suu Kyi at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.
"This morning at the State Department, Suu Kyi and I had the chance to talk about the work still ahead, and there is a lot of work. I think one of the important reasons for her visit at this time is to remind us of how much more still lies ahead, from strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions to addressing the challenges in many of the ethnic conflicts and in Rakhine state," she said.
Clinton said the government and the opposition need to continue to work together to unite the country, heal the wounds of the past and carry the reforms forward.
"That is also key to guard against backsliding, because there are forces that would take the country in the wrong direction if given the chance," she said.
Referring to the flicker of progress remarks of Obama a year ago, Clinton said Myanmar has made a lot of progress since then.
"Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released over the past year, including some just this week. Opposition political parties have been legalized, and their members have won seats in parliament. Restrictions on the press and on freedom of assembly have eased," she said.
"We`ve seen laws that have been enacted to expand the rights of workers to form labor unions and to outlaw forced labor, and the government has reached fragile cease-fires in some long-running ethnic conflicts," Clinton said.
"Suu Kyi`s courage and moral leadership never wavered through years of house arrest and persecution, and she and other opposition leaders have now joined with President Thein Sein and the new government to take the courageous steps necessary to drive these reforms. But the United States is committed to standing with the government and the people of Burma to support this progress that has begun but is still a work in progress," she said.