US to send Ambassador to Myanmar: Hillary

The US will soon kick-off the process of exchanging ambassadors with Myanmar, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Updated: Jan 13, 2012, 23:37 PM IST

Washington: The US will soon kick-off the
process of exchanging ambassadors with Myanmar, upgrading
diplomatic ties in recognition of the steps taken by the
country`s regime towards political reforms, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton said on Friday.

Hailing the release of the political prisoners as a
"momentous day" for the people of Myanmar, Hillary said
Washington is not gearing up to send an Ambassador to the
country to effectively establish full-fledged diplomatic ties.

Currently, the head of the US mission in Myanmar is a
charge d`affaires, who is a step below ambassador.

At a hurriedly convened press conference at the Foggy
Bottom headquarters of the State Department, Hillary said she
would be calling Myanmar President Thein Sein and opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi to underscore US` commitment to
support the country on its path of reform.

"As I said last December, the United States will meet
action with action. Based on the steps taken so far, we will
now begin," Hillary said.

"In consultation with members of Congress and at the
direction of President (Barack) Obama, we will start the
process of exchanging ambassadors with Burma.

"We will identify a candidate to serve as US ambassador to
represent the United States government and our broader efforts
to strengthen and deepen our ties with both the people and the
government," she said.

Obama too praised the release of political prisoners in
Myanmar, terming it a substantial step forward for democratic
reform.

Noting that this would be a lengthy process and will
depend on continuing progress and reform, Hillary said an
American ambassador will help strengthen efforts to support
the historic and promising steps unfolding in the country.

"I`ve also instructed my team at the State Department to
identify further steps that the United States can take in
conjunction with our friends and allies to support the reforms
under way," Hillary said.

Welcoming the release of political prisoners, Hillary said
this is a substantial and serious step forward in the
government`s stated commitment to political reform.
"I applaud it, and the entire international community
should as well," she said.

"Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed these dramatic steps as
further indication of progress and commitment. Many of the
people released today have distinguished themselves as
steadfast, courageous leaders in the fight for democracy and
human rights at critical times in their country`s recent
history.

"And like all of the people of their country, they want
and deserve to have a voice in the decisions that affect their
lives," she said.

Welcoming the news of a ceasefire agreement between the
government and the Karen National Union, she said, the KNU has
been involved in one of the longest-running insurgencies
anywhere in the world, and entering a ceasefire agreement that
begins to address the long-standing grievances of the Karen
people is an important step forward.

"It is in that spirit that I urge the government to enter
into meaningful dialogue with all ethnic groups to achieve
national reconciliation, to allow news media and humanitarian
groups access to ethnic areas," Hillary said.

In addition to the ceasefire and the release of political
prisoners, the civilian leadership has taken other important
steps since assuming power in April 2011, Hillary noted.

These include easing restrictions on media and civil
society; engaging Suu Kyi in a substantive dialogue and
amending electoral laws to pave the way for her party to
participate in the political process; setting a date for the
by-elections, passing new legislation to protect the right of
assembly and the rights of workers; beginning to provide
humanitarian access for the United Nations and NGOs to
conflict areas; and establishing their own National Human
Rights Commission.

PTI