Myanmar, US diplomats hold talks in Washington

Under Barack Obama, US has pursued a dual-track policy of diplomatic engagement towards and sanctions against Myanmar.

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2011, 10:00 AM IST

Washington: Myanmar`s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin held rare talks in Washington with senior US State Department officials as the United States welcomed signs of political change in Myanmar.

Wunna Maung Lwin met Derek Mitchell, the newly appointed US coordinator on Myanmar, Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Michael Posner, a specialist in human rights on Thursday, US officials said.

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said he did not know when was the last time a foreign minister from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, visited the State Department.

"The meeting follows on recent US engagement efforts with the Burmese delegation at the UN General Assembly last week, as well as Ambassador Mitchell`s travel to Burma earlier in September," Toner said.

Under US President Barack Obama, the United States has pursued a dual-track policy of diplomatic engagement towards and sanctions against Myanmar, which has a record of crushing political dissent.

Toner said Washington will maintain its dual-track approach but "we do welcome recent developments in Burma, such as the government of Burma`s ongoing dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi," the democracy icon and Nobel peace laureate.

"And we`re going to continue to encourage progress on all the core issues," he added.

These include the release of all political prisoners, "as well as an inclusive dialogue with the opposition and ethnic minorities towards national reconciliation, and improvements in accountability on human rights," he said.

They also include "an end to violence occurring in ethnic minority areas, as well as an adherence to... relevant UN non-proliferation resolutions," Toner added.

A senior US official said earlier this month the United States was studying the "clear winds of change blowing through Burma" to determine whether the countries could "substantially improve" their relationship.

The official, however, reiterated that the United States still had "real concerns" in Myanmar, including the military`s "horrible brutalities" against ethnic minority guerrillas and the treatment of women.

Myanmar last year held rare elections after which the military nominally handed power to civilians, although the opposition and the United States have criticised both steps as shams.

PTI