Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Highest US diplomat in Burma to retire

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 20:04 Aye Lae

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The highest US diplomat in Burma, Charge d'Affaires Ad Interim Larry Dinger, will retire in August after completing a three-year tenure, the US embassy in Rangoon said.

Highest US diplomat in Rangoon, Larry Dinger, left, with
US Senator John McCain to retire in August.
Photo: Mizzima
Dinger, 65, is a strong supporter of US sanctions, and he is known for closely following the affairs of the Burmese pro-democracy opposition parties.

“Since he will be 65 years old in August, he will retire in accord with Foreign Service regulations.” a Rangoon embassy spokesman told Mizzima.

The United States downgraded its ambassador in Burma to a charge d'affaires in response to the human rights violations of the Burmese military, which governed the country until early this year when an elected Parliament took office.

Dinger is an expert on the Burmese democracy struggle and is well known by opposition groups.

Nyan Win, a spokesman for the National League for Democracy, said Dinger was “friendly and frank with us.”

National Democratic Force (NDF) leader Khin Maung Swe said, “I met him as soon as I was released from prison.” Dinger was tough on imposing US sanctions against Burma, he said.

“His opinion is that it will not be easy to lift these US sanctions because they cannot do anything as long as the political prisoners are behind bars,” he said.

US diplomatic cables published on the Wikileaks web site included an e-mail by Dinger called “Commencing talks with Burmese generals.” The e-mail said the military establishment is a xenophobic, top-down bureaucracy with a goal of maintaining national unity. Dinger said the top brass want to be respected in the international community and among their people.

During his tenure, Dinger hosted high-level US political leaders including senators Jim Webb and John McCain and US Deputy Undersecretary of State Joseph Yung. Dinger graduated from Macalester College, Harvard Law School and the National War College.

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