Monday, January 16, 2012

Begin serious political talks with ethnic groups: U.S.


(Mizzima) – The U.S wants the Burmese government to start serious political discussions to end decades of hostility with ethnic groups throughout the country, following last week’s cease-fire with the Karen National Union. 

In a background briefing in Washington, D.C., a senior state department official said on Saturday, “We want the process that has played out with the KNU to be replicated across the country: ceasefires in place, serious political negotiations to begin, steps that will allow for the broadening of political and civic activity, and implementation of legislation that would protect freedoms of assembly, speech, and association.”

He said Assistant Secretary Tom Countryman would visit Burma soon for high-level consultations on that and several other key issues, including North Korea, which are central to the U.S. before the removal of sanctions.

“We have made clear our determination that the military ties between the two countries going forward be severed between North Korea and Burma. And we will be talking with them about Naypyitaw’s intention to sign the Additional Protocol of the IAEA. That still has not been finalized, but there are substantial progress that have been made in recent weeks,” said the spokesperson. The protocol agreement of the International Atomic Energy Agency requires a country to provide information about any nuclear program and allow for international inspections.

The spokesperson said the U.S. also emphasized that it wanted to see a complete halt of all efforts by Burma to acquire missiles or weapons from North Korea, as a requirement for the ending of U.S. sanctions.         

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