Washington: US President Barack Obama on Friday
praised the release of political prisoners in Myanmar, terming
it substantial step forward for democratic reform.
"President Thein Sein's decision to release hundreds of
prisoners of conscience is a substantial step forward for
democratic reform," Obama said in a statement.
Obama also welcomed the ceasefire agreement reached
between the Karen National Union and the government.
"Today, I applaud President Thein Seins’s decision to
release hundreds of prisoners of conscience, which is a
crucial step in Burma’s democratic transformation and national
reconciliation process, he said.
"I?m pleased that Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed this
step as she continues to pursue a dialogue with the
government," Obama said.
The president urged the government to ensure that these
and all other former political prisoners are allowed to
participate fully and freely in the political process,
particularly the upcoming by-elections, and to free all
remaining prisoners of conscience.
Obama had spoken to Suu Kyi over telephone when he had
visited Indonesia two months ago.
"In Indonesia, I spoke about the flickers of progress
that were emerging in Burma. Today, that light burns a bit
brighter, as prisoners are reunited with their families and
people can see a democratic path forward," he said.
Even as he said "much more remains to be done to meet the
aspirations" of the people in Myanmar, he said "the United
States is committed to continuing our engagement with the
government in Nay Pyi Taw."
Obama said he has directed Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton to take additional steps to build confidence with the
government and people of Myanmar so that "we seize this
historic and hopeful opportunity".
Obama said two months ago, he spoke with Aung San Suu Kyi
and President Thein Sein about how America?s engagement can
help empower democratic reform, and improve relations between
"Shortly afterwards, Clinton became the first US
Secretary of State to travel to Burma in over half a century.
In her meetings in Nay Pyi Taw and Rangoon, she
discussed with President Sein and other leaders the steps that
would advance a new beginning between our countries.
A key part of that discussion was the need to
unconditionally release prisoners of conscience and allow
them to participate fully in public and political life," he
First Published: Friday, January 13, 2012, 23:31