Key US lawmaker heads to Myanmar
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Last Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 15:30
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," Crowley said.

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. PTI

First Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 15:25

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