Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Two top U.S. officials visit Burma for meetings

Tuesday, 01 November 2011 13:29 Tun Tun

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Derek Mitchell, the U.S. Special representative and policy coordinator for Burma, and Michael Posner, an assistant secretary of state, will arrive in Burma on Tuesday.

It is Mitchell’s third visit to Burma within two months, and the first visit for Posner, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.

“We have an appointment at 11 a.m. at the [U.S] embassy,” National Democratic Force [NDF] leader Khin Maung Swe told Mizzima on Monday.

US special representative to Burma Derek Mitchell. Photo: U.S. State Department

On the four-day visit, the U.S. officials will meet with Burmese government officials, political parties including the NDF, National Unity Party [NUP], Democratic Party (Myanmar) and social organizations.

During the meeting, the NDF said it would ask about the U.S. officials’ opinions regarding ways to seek peace inside Burma.

“We will talk about affairs regarding peace because peace is important. Without peace, business cannot be conducted,” NDF leader Khin Maung Swe told Mizzima.

Party officials would also ask about economic sanctions against Burma, he said.

Presently, the U.S. government balances its economic sanctions policy with a policy of engagement and dialogue with the new Burmese government.

The U.S. has urged the new government to release all political prisoners, to hold a tri-partite political dialogue toward national reconciliation and to allow international aid to reach civil war refugees.

NUP spokesman Han Shwe said: “If the U.S. representatives come to Burma frequently for discussions, they will come to understand our country’s conditions and then sanctions are likely to be lifted gradually.”

He said the NUP accepted that democratic change was underway in Burma, and it [NUP] would talk about democracy, human rights and workers’ affairs in the meeting with U.S. officials.

On the other hand, the Democratic Party (Myanmar) noted that although there have been democratic changes in Burma, the process has been slow and there are still human rights violations throughout the country. Thu Wai, the chairman of the Democratic Party (Myanmar), will also attend the meeting with U.S. officials.

Than Than Nu, the secretary of Democratic Party (Myanmar), said: “They are trying to bring about change. Bur, some processes can be delayed. Some things have been implemented partially. In the past, all political parties could form their own workers’ unions and farmers’ unions. Now, we can’t. So, democratic changes have not been well made.”

U.S. officials also plan to meet with National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders, but the date has not been set.

Ohn Kyaing, the NLD spokesman, told Mizzima the NLD will talk about establishing democracy, human rights and political prisoners.

Derek Mitchell’s last trip to Burma was on October 24.

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