Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ruled out lifting sanctions on Myanmar, arguing that more concrete steps need to be taken by the new government in the Asian country.
"We're not ending sanctions. We are not making any abrupt changes," Hillary told the Fox news in an interview.
President Barack Obama said in Indonesia that he is sending Hillary to Myanmar to hold talks with the government and the pro-democracy leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi.
Scheduled to travel to Myanmar on December 01, Hillary would be the first US Secretary of State to travel to Myanmar in 50 years.
Justifying the decision, she said a wind of change is blowing in Myanmar, but more still needs to be done.
"Part of why I'm going is to make my own evaluation as to how serious and sincere they are. We are encouraged by some of the steps that they've taken, but they have to do more. And we've consistently said that," Hillary told the MSNBC.
"They have to release all political prisoners. I mean, that just is a condition. They need to begin to look at how they resolve these ethnic conflicts that have driven tens of thousands of Burmese of different ethnicities into refugee status. They have to have a real electoral system with an open door to political parties and free expression. I mean, this is about whether they are on a path to democracy," Hillary said.
"There is still a lot to be done and it has to be tested, but I'm going to go and meet with, obviously, Aung San Suu Kyi, but the highest levels of the government, civil society, other members of the opposition, and just convey that the United States is prepared to support a peaceful institutionalisation of democracy," she told Fox news.
"We'd like to see more political prisoners released. We would like to see a real political process and real elections. We'd like to see an end to the conflicts, particularly the terrible conflicts with ethnic minorities. But we think there's an opportunity and we want to test it," she said.
In another interview to the CNN, Hillary said she is going to Myanmar to test the waters there.
"One of the reasons that I'm going is to test what the true intentions are and whether there is a commitment to both economic and political reform," she said.
"We have followed the situation very closely. We had the first-ever special envoy to Burma, created by the Congress, appointed by the Administration, over the last several months, has been there several times. I've talked to Aung San Suu Kyi; the President has. We've had many interactions with her through top officials, along with others. And there certainly does seem to be an opening," Hillary said.
"Now how real it is, how far it goes, we're going to have to make sure we have a better understanding than we do right now. But at least there has been some forward movement... So we're hoping, most certainly for the people of Burma, that this is real. But if it is, the United States will support and encourage it," she added.
First Published: Saturday, November 19, 2011, 12:41