US to appoint Pentagon official as Special Envoy for Myanmar

Derek Mitchell is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Washington: The Obama administration is all set to appoint a top Pentagon official, Derek Mitchell, as America`s Special Envoy for Myanmar.

"Derek has met Aung San Suu Kyi and knows all the regional players, including China and India. He also knows the interagency well and has a balanced and strategic view of the issue," Mike Green, former senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, told The Cable, which yesterday
reported the news about his appointment.

"He would be excellent in this position," Green said.

Mitchell is currently the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Affairs.

"Derek Mitchell is the excellence choice for the US Special Policy Coordinator on Burma position. He is smart, intelligent and well respected by the Burmese activists in exile," Aung Din, from the US Campaign for Myanmar, said.

"He knows Burma very well and I believe he is capable to strengthen the US sanction policy on Burma`s regime by coordinating within the US bureaucracy and with European Union, Canada and Australia. I believe that the Senate will make a quick confirmation for his appointment," he added.

Early this week, four Senators appealed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to immediately nominate a Special Policy Coordinator for Myanmar.

In a letter dated March 29, Senators Dianne Feinstein, Mitch McConnell, Barbara Boxer and Mark Kirk, said that the US sanctions against Myanmar should be maintained until the regime undertakes serious reforms.

The National League of Democracy (NLD) headed by human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi, in a recent report, had concluded that economic sanctions affect the military junta and its associates and are not to blame for the country`s economic problems.

"With the regime`s recent moves and persistent human rights abuses, conditions do not currently exit to meet the necessary criteria to consider an easing sanctions.”

"Instead we urge the department at senior levels to take this opportunity to accept the NLD`s invitation to work with them to ensure that sanctions are more effective and better utilised," the Senators wrote in the letter.

One way to enhance this co-ordination would be the nomination of a Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Myanmar as mandated by Section 7 of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese Junta`s Anti-Democratic Efforts Act (JADE Act), they said.


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