Clinton to visit Myanmar next week

US President Barak Obama had said that he made the decision after speaking directly for the first time with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton would embark on a historic three-day trip to Myanmar
next week to accelerate fledgling reforms in this South East
Asian nation.

Clinton would reach Myanmar on November 30 after
attending the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness at
Busan in South Korea, officials said.

She is the first US secretary of state to visit
Myanmar in more than 50 years.

The top US diplomat will travel to Nay Pyi Taw and
Yangon in Myanmar.

"Clinton will underscore the US commitment to a policy of
principled engagement and direct dialogue as part of our
dual-track approach," State Department spokesperson Mark Toner
said.

"She will register support for reforms that we have
witnessed in recent months and discuss further reforms in key
areas, as well as steps the US can take to reinforce
progress," he said adding that Clinton will consult with a
broad and diverse group of civil society and ethnic minority
leaders to gain their perspectives on developments in the
country.

US President Barack Obama announced in Indonesia last
week that he was sending Clinton to Myanmar, previously known
as Burma.

Obama had said that he made the decision after speaking
directly for the first time with democracy icon Aung San Suu
Kyi and noted "flickers of progress" from the Myanmar
government.

Earlier, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes
told foreign journalists that the main purpose of the visit is
to maintain the momentum of changes in Burma.

"I think the Secretary`s trip is in part to add momentum
to what`s taken place and to explore what`s going forward, but
there are no plans right now to lift sanctions," he said.

The senior US official said that the time was not right
to ease sanctions on Myanmar.

"I think it`s premature to discuss lifting of sanctions,"
Rhodes said, adding that Clinton would assess the progress
that`s been made there.

"There have been some positive responses from the Burmese
Government to the President`s announcement, as there have been
positive responses from Aung San Suu Kyi, for instance, whose
parties come into the system," he said.

"But we believe that there`s very intensive follow-through
on this Burma track that it`s going to be an important focus
of the United States to see if we can continue moving the ball
forward on the types of reforms that we’ve seen in Burma. So
that`s an area identified by the President for
follow-through," Rhodes said.

The top White House official said that goal of that visit
is going to be to try to continue the momentum that there`s
been towards greater respect for human rights, greater
movement on political reform in Burma, and also, critically,
greater respect for ethnic minorities in the context of
national reconciliation as well.

PTI

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