US lifts visa ban on Myanmar
Washington: Considering the decisions taken by its government as part of economic and political reforms, the US has decided to lift the visa ban on Myanmar, but will continue with the national emergency against the country for one more year.
"The steps acknowledge important change the government of Burma has made. They encourage and empower government and people to continue on the path of political and economic reform," a senior administration official said after President Barack Obama issued necessary orders in this regard.
The United States identifies Myanmar with its previous name Burma.
In his letter to the Congress, Obama said the government of Myanmar has made significant progress in number of critical areas including release of political prisoners, achieving ceasefire talks with 11 armed ethnic groups, taking steps toward removing press censorship and enabling participation of opposition parties in country's political system.
Obama, however, noted that situation in Myanmar continues to pose "unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the US", especially in view its "continued military relationship" with North Korea.
The President further said issues like fete of remaining political prisoners and ongoing conflict and human rights abuses in ethnic minority areas in Myanmar also continue to pose concerns.
"The US is committed to supporting and strengthening Burma's reform efforts to ensure that the democratic transition becomes irreversible. For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to Burma," Obama said in the letter.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision "allows us to facilitate greater bilateral engagement with Burmese stakeholders who are leading and contributing to reform efforts."