Monday, August 17, 2009

Opposition leaders likely to meet visiting US senator Webb

by Mungpi
Thursday, 13 August 2009 23:36

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burmese junta on Thursday invited four opposition leaders to come to the new capital Naypyitaw on Friday, but the opposition’s spokesperson said they are still unaware of the reason behind the invitation.

Than Tun, Nyunt Wai, Hla Pe and Soe Myint, all central executive committee (CEC) members of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, on Thursday received an invitation from the government to come to Naypyitaw on Friday, the NLD spokesperson Nyan Win said.

“I don’t know why or for what, but I am aware that the four have been invited. And I cannot speculate because I do not know anything as yet and I am not even sure if the four leaders would be able to make it,” Nyan Win said.

But another central executive committee member and veteran journalist Win Tin said he believes it might have to do with the visit of the US senator Jim Webb.

“I know that the NLD leaders are planning to go to Naypyitaw. Though I don’t know the reason, I guess it might have something to do with Jim Webb’s visit,” Win Tin said.

He, however, said it is a personal opinion.

An US embassy spokesperson in Rangoon told Mizzima that Senator Jim Webb, who is on a tour of five Southeast Asian countries, will arrive in Burma on Friday.

Richard Mei, the embassy spokesperson said, “Senator Jim Webb is arriving on Friday,” but did not mention details of his slated meeting with Burmese officials.

According to a statement issued by his office on Thursday, Webb will meet Burma’s military Chief Snr Gen Than Shwe during his visit to Burma.

“Later this week, U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) is scheduled to meet leaders at the highest levels of the national government in Burma, including Senior General Than Shwe,” the statement said.

“If the Shwe meeting takes place it will be the first time that a senior American official has ever met Burma's top leader,” the statement added.

Senator Webb will also be the first United States Member of Congress to visit Burma in more than 10 years. His visit is one stop on a two-week, five-nation tour of Asia to explore opportunities to advance U.S. interests in the region.

As chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Webb oversees U.S. relations with countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Rim, and Oceana.

The subcommittee also oversees regional organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

In addition to his more recent visits as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Webb has worked and travelled throughout this vast region, from Micronesia to Burma, for nearly four decades, as a Marine Corps Officer, a defence planner, a journalist, a novelist, a Department of Defence executive, and as a business consultant.

Webb served as an infantry Marine in Vietnam, and later as Assistant Secretary of Defence and Secretary of the Navy in the Pentagon.

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