Ambassador Mitchell's Press Briefing
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Ambassador Mitchell's Press Briefing

By THE IRRAWADDY Friday, December 16, 2011


Recently, Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma Derek Mitchell visited China and its major allies in Asia—Japan and South Korea—to explain the US approach to Burma. In his briefing to the media about these visits, Mitchell said that the United States does not intend its relationship with Burma to have any negative impact on Sino-Burmese relations.

Below is the full text of briefing made at Press Roundtable, U.S. Embassy Beijing, China (Dec. 13, 2011).

AMBASSADOR MITCHELL: Thank you all. This is the final meeting of sorts before I get on the plane and go home after being two and a half weeks on the road. The first stop, of course, being in Burma, in anticipation of and during the Secretary of State’s recent trip there, which we found a landmark visit and a highly successful visit. We’re very very positive about how that went. But another part of my job is to coordinate and go to other countries in the region to talk about U.S. policy, to clarify what the U.S. is doing, and also talk about other nations’ approach to Burma, and to coordinate our approaches, because we do see this as a positive development, the trends that are going on inside the country, inside Burma, the trend toward reform. I think it builds stability and progress for the entire region, something I think everyone welcomes. And it should be something that we all think about together and we coordinate so we can all promote the kinds of change that we’re looking for.

Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma Derek Mitchell
When I left Burma I went first to Tokyo, actually first to Seoul, where I had conversations with colleagues in Korea. Then on to Tokyo to talk with friends in Japan about the trip and about potential cooperation and exchanging perspectives. And of course here in Beijing which is a very important partner of Burma’s with a long history and long border with the country.

Obviously we’re trying to build cooperative relations in our bilateral relationship with China on a whole host of issues, regionally and globally. We view this as an opportunity, the changes, the trends that are going on inside Burma, for us to exchange perspectives and have maybe some new dialogues. I don’t think traditionally we have had many conversations about the country, and we should be thinking about the many common interests that we have, and in fact we have many as I’ve found over the past day, and came here understanding: stability, national unity, and national reconciliation inside Burma, development inside the country, as well as some questions about drug trafficking, human trafficking, health concerns, and the like.

There are a number of challenges inside and cross borders that I think we both have an interest, the U.S. and China have, in working together and of course in cooperation with the government in Naypyidaw and in society at large inside Burma.

So I wanted to lay down very frankly in my meetings here, including meeting with the Foreign Ministry and meetings with some of the think tanks and other observers here in town, lay out exactly what the U.S. has been doing in Burma, how the Secretary’s trip went, provide our perspective on the way forward, and to gain perspectives here about how China’s thinking about things and see if there might be opportunities to coordinate, cooperate and work together in the interest of regional stability as well as the interests of the Burmese people.

So I leave here encouraged by what’s happening inside that country and hopeful that we can find ways as a region to think about this as an opportunity for cooperation.

With that, I’ll open up to questions. I imagine there are a few.

QUESTION: I have two questions. First, could you talk about the timing of this visit to Asia and the three countries now? And did China show any willing[ness] to talk with the U.S. government or [does the] U.S feel it is necessary to talk with China government?

AMBASSADOR MITCHELL: The timing of my visit to Northeast Asia was essentially based on the fact that I’m in the region because of the Secretary’s visit. I try to make the most -- it’s a long way away, Burma, from the United States. So when I come to the region I want to engage with regional states about what’s happened and to coordinate our efforts.

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Norman Hla Wrote:
The Director General of Asian Affairs, Luo Zhaohui might need to explain use of Veto card of China and gaining Burma business from than shwe imply conflict of interest or not. If China continue to use Veto for favoring than shwe , China should not do business with Burma for ethical reason(to avoid conflict of interest).US clearly states Burma must have good relationship with its neighbor(China)with the use of political solution for all ethnics issue.US means that DASSK must be good with China. Cheer US’s action for having ethical and good intention to Burmese citizens. The ball is in China hand to favor DASSK or brutal than shwe military thugs now. Let see if China leaders love Burmese and have their kind hearts for our 60 years suffering, esp ethnics who are mostly Chinese descents. One says DASSK’s mother has Karen blood. DASSK refused U nu’s(Karen killer) party forming in 1988up-rising.CheerDS.

Derek Wrote:
This morning I joked with a taxi driver that next year the taxi owner could trade the 1972 Blue Mazda for an import permit that would leave him unemployed.

We both agreed an equitable solution could be for Toyota to open an assembly plant in Myanmar and then he could have drive an air conditioned hybrid Camry.

Considering the often rugged terrain a 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek could be a more appropriate vehicle for local conditions.

In addition to the factory workers paying income tax with new found regular employment they could be sold a 25 yr mortgage and reside in one of the new 5 star condominiums planned for Yangon.

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