Hillary’s Burma Visit
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Interview

INTERVIEW

Hillary’s Burma Visit


By THE IRRAWADDY Saturday, November 19, 2011


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So I think we've put together, working very closely with their government, the kind of trip that we think is necessary.  They've been very supportive.  We face no restrictions.  And we are looking forward to that engagement.

Q: And is this going to come up at the ASEAN meeting?  You guys pointed out that --

Senior US administration official:  Yes.

Q: the leaders will both be there.  Is this going to be talked about?

Senior US administration official:  Oh, yes.

Senior US administration official:  Yes.

Senior US administration official:  We anticipate that the President will be able to address, again, the approach that he's taking here.  Thein Sein will obviously be at the meeting, so he'll have an opportunity to reinforce exactly the messages we're talking about here.

Senior US administration official:  And the irony is that this is their second meeting.  He was prime minister in the previous government, and came to Singapore for the first U.S.-ASEAN meeting, and so they had a chance to meet at that time.

Q: Met like in a bilateral meeting, or just on the side?

Senior US administration official:  They met in a bilateral meeting, in which --

Senior US administration official:  No, a multilateral meeting.

Senior US administration official:  Excuse me, a multilateral meeting.  Sorry, I misspoke -- in a multilateral meeting as one of the 10 ASEAN members there.

I think what is different now is attributable to the steps that the Burmese government has taken.  It is not that the President of the United States rolled out of bed and decided that it's time to tackle the Burma problem.  It is that he is responding to measurable, concrete and significant steps that, in the view of Aung San Suu Kyi, warrant an engagement response and the kind of dialogue that Secretary Clinton will be able to engage in when she goes.

Q: Just one more point on the benchmarks -- I mean, have you told them things like, you must do X by Y date?  Is it that specific, or is it just that they know more generally what it is that you need to see?

Senior US administration official:  I think we have been clear about what our benchmarks are for what we would like to see, and that's how the dialogue has proceeded.

Senior US administration official:  And by the way, they have also told us some things that they'd like to see as well.

Q: So the President will talk about this at ASEAN in -- not while we’re in there, but during the closed part, he'll mentioned it -- tell the group what he told us, that he's --

Senior US administration official:  Cat is out of the bag.

Senior US administration official:  Yes, and I think our sense is that this is something that will be broadly welcomed by the ASEAN countries.  This morning, the President was able to -- the subject of Burma came up in his bilateral meeting with the President of the Philippines, for instance, who noted the positive steps Burma has taken, as well as in the meeting with Prime Minister Singh, who similarly noted those steps.

So we believe, again, this will be seen as a very positive signal.  It's a signal that also, frankly, connects to what we've been discussing throughout this trip, which is our commitment to deepening our engagement here, and that engagement is welcome.

Q: Unrelatedly, is President Hu of China at the East Asia Summit here?

Senior US administration official:  Premier Wen Jiabao is at the summit for China.

All right, sorry, we've got to run these guys off.  But thanks, guys.



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COMMENTS (14)
 
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Myo Wrote:
24/11/2011
We have all the resources, you name it then we have it. All the Burmese talented people are waiting for this opportunity to go back and build our Home.

Currently I am studying at MIT and thought of going back and make development at Burma after my graduation.

nyi nyi Wrote:
24/11/2011
To be honest,I know that burma will alliance with US when they started to delay the DAM project. Otherwise, they cannot deal with the China who is the main supporter of burmese general over decades.On the other hand, it is the good time for US to go inside it. The world economy goes down and asia pacific is the good market to make new businees.Again, a country like burma is the good place for them to restart again. All in all, there are so many benefict from both side. Country will develop more, there will be more jobs rather than girls are working at karaoke and massage. If the Generals are really looking forward to the changes, this is really good sign. Currenly thailand is flooding and it is the good time to start.
We strongly welcome it . Come on Myanmar!

linnhtetmaw Wrote:
24/11/2011
A lot of Burmese around the world are looking forward and are glad of the changes taking place in the state. i think that if they can build the real foundation, Myanmar can be on top in South East Asia by 30-40years from now.It will also depend on the next generation of Burmese citizens too so it all starts from the classroom..

Derek Wrote:
24/11/2011
Where can I find the best roast duck in Yangon?

Ohn Wrote:
21/11/2011
Than Shwe was like a naughty boy who jumped over the fence and faced with a large mean dog. After voluntarily giving in to the Chinese who throughout the history of the world has not shown an ounce of conscience or qualm but sheer ruthlessness and cruelty dealing with their own or the others, with concessions after concessions ( where his various lieutenants went to China and signed MOU’s) he finds he can't undo it now. Chinese now acts like they own HIM.

The distress signal (stopping the dam) was picked up by the ASEAN and the “developed countries” readily waiting in the wing. They also have similar interest as well now. To build rails, roads and ports for faster and more profitable access across Burma for the benefit of multinationals companies with ready consumer market of the insatiable Chinese. All of these plans will benefit enormously to the companies concerned as well as the Chinese and the ASEAN and “western” governments.

Ohn Wrote:
21/11/2011
All except the Burmese public who will be left with irreversibly damaged environment, loss of traditional farm land, loss of income and livelihood, fractured families and social structure and advent of consumer culture, and erosion of morality, traditional culture and social fabric. The reaped benefit would still go to a few connected Burmese regardless of who joins the government now.

This will also entails “annihilation” of anybody in the way, now with the added support and at least tacit approval of the “democratic” countries and NLD.


Even though the Americans would want the Chinese not to be sole handlers of the military (in whatever form they want to present themselves with eg. Fake parliament) they would be in thorough agreement in the matter of the loot of the country along with ASEAN and other Asian powers.

Ohn Wrote:
21/11/2011
It is like the Burmese hare is chased by the Chinese hounds into the path of the gun men the Americans and the ASEAN. The result for majority Burmese will be the same.


For the majority Burmese the result would simply be loss of any ownership – of traditionally own land and natural reserves of the country - and their livelihood with benefit going to small clique of people who will be the vocal crowd drowning out the feeble voice the people have.

And imagine these poor things singing the praise of the arrival of the saviour Americans.

KML Wrote:
21/11/2011
It is very enlightening for the fact that concern about political prisoners is mentioned in this interview. Although they are still behind the bar, their contribution towards Burmese democratic process should not be forgotten.

Alexander Graham Bell invented telephone and Wrights brothers’ pioneered aeroplane. But the real beneficiaries are the Telco giants and Boeing, Airbus etc.

Dear respected political prisoners, you may not enjoy any luxury. But if Burmese people, including ethnic nationalities, enjoy peaceful and developed nation, your sacrifice will be worthy.

Nukgan Wrote:
21/11/2011
To show the point of my earlier comment, let me add quotes from an article just published on a Kachin news site: http://kachinlandnews.com/?p=20986

"The deals are made, the proposals are exchanged, and the promises are rendered, signifying progress in the Burmese political scene. The ethnic minorities are, however, once again remain marginalized and neglected at the crossroad of political progress. The ethnic issue is at the bottom of their to-do list for any interest party involved.
...
The suffering, displacement, and lives of the civilian Kachins are seen merely as a collateral damage on the road to progress. Therefore, the so-called “constructive engagement” with the Burmese government so far transpires as a double-disappointment for the ethnic minorities. It is evident that the more the Burmese government is successful in its international diplomacy, the more violent and atrocious they become in dealing with the ethnic minorities."

Nukgan: Non-Bama people? Wrote:
21/11/2011
I support the constructive engagement approach and the reforms made, but I am so worried to see that again no one brought up and discussed the situation of non-Bamar peoples in Burma. The wars, the tens of thousands of people who have had to flee their homes, the women raped, people killed, tortured, and living in constant fear for their children, friends, families.

Are the Burmese Army's activities in the lands of Shans, Kachins, Karens, Chins, and many others, as well as the situation of Rohingyas too complicated to discuss? Do the ethnic Bamar democratic leaders of Burma feel so much less responsible in front of the non-Bama peoples? What will be the price of our silence?

While the voice of other ethnic peoples is less loud, they are noticing what is going on, and see it from their unfortunate perspectives.

Nyunt Han Wrote:
20/11/2011
In the photograph Maung Thein Sein and his cronies seemed to be listening eagerly to what Obama had to say.

Richard Aung Myint Wrote:
20/11/2011
Where is Than Shwe and Maung Aye in this equation?

chindits Wrote:
19/11/2011
looks like ethnic issue has to come second after they fill their stomach.

Oo Maung gyi Wrote:
19/11/2011
Fresh winds are blowing inside Burma. Every things depend on both side. The Burmese mass is waiting for the good atmosphere to create inside Burma. No more fighting with ethnic and government soldiers. After all the end justify the means. Let us wait and see.

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