Tuesday, July 17, 2012

US stresses ‘action for action’ in talks

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 14:23 Mizzima News

Robert Hormats, a top US economic official, had productive talks with Burmese leaders last week, stressing a tit-for-tat approach in further easing of US sanctions.

Hormats met with  Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann, Industry Minister Soe Thein, Central Bank Governor Than Nyein, Deputy Commerce Minister Pwint Hsan, and National League for Democracy leader and Member of Parliament Aung San Suu Kyi, according to a US government website.

Burmese Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann with US economic official Robert Hormats at the Parliament building in Naypyitaw. Photo: Pyithu Hluttaw

He told Burmese officials that the US remains committed to working with Burma to improve transparency and anti-corruption efforts, including across state-owned companies such as the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), and he urged the government to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The EITI works to ensure international standards in business dealings between governments.

During the meetings, Hormats, who is under secretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment, said the US would continue to match its aid and easing of sanctions with Burmese actions – “action for action.”

He also stressed the importance of respecting human rights, including promoting labor rights, protecting the rights of ethnic minorities, and releasing hundreds of remaining political prisoners, and he said that future progress in US-Burma relations will depend on continued efforts in these areas.

President Barack Obama ordered the easing of US sanctions on Wednesday that had prevented American companies from doing business in Burma. Obama said US companies will be permitted to operate "responsibly" in Burma, but will be prohibited from dealing with Burma's military or entities owned by the Ministry of Defense.

The president signed another order expanding sanctions on senior officials and individuals “who undermine the reform process, engage in human rights abuses, contribute to ethnic conflict, or participate in military trade with North Korea.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week the step is meant to send a clear message about the kind of behavior the United States would like to see by the Burmese government as it continues its reform actions.

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