Washington: A US congressman who has
spearheaded sanctions aimed at pressuring Myanmar will pay his
first visit to the country tomorrow to assess the pace of
recent reforms, his office said.
While Myanmar has seen a rising number of high-profile
international visits, Joe Crowley will be the first member of
the US House of Representatives in more than 12 years to
travel to the country also known as Burma.
Crowley, a member of President Barack Obama`s Democratic
Party, will meet government officials and opposition icon Aung
San Suu Kyi as well as ethnic minority leaders on his two-day
trip, his office said.
"I am visiting the country to assess the situation on the
ground, as well as to encourage the government to continue on
the path of reform," Crowley said in a statement.
"While the government has taken some steps in the
direction of reform, there is more that needs to be done,"
Myanmar`s long-ruling generals last year handed power to a
nominally civilian government. The United States and the
opposition were initially skeptical, but hopes have been
rising and Suu Kyi now plans to contest an April 1 election
that could see her take part in the new parliament.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a landmark visit
to Myanmar last month in hopes of encouraging reforms,
although she said that the United States needed to see more
progress before it considers easing sanctions.
Crowley has been a sponsor of bills that authorize
sanctions against Myanmar including a 2008 measure that
stopped gems -- a key money-maker for the impoverished country
-- from entering the United States via third countries.