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

By THE IRRAWADDY Friday, December 16, 2011

(Page 3 of 4)

There is not a role for the United States in telling either country what to do with sovereign decisions on foreign policy and international relations. We haven’t in the past and we won’t in the future.

QUESTION: I have two questions for you. Number one, talking about regional security, what is your biggest concern of Burma? Number two, talking about democracy development, what is the future of Burma’s democratic development? Can you give us some concrete --

AMBASSADOR MITCHELL: Can I get a repeat of the first question?

QUESTION: The first question is talking about regional security, stability. So what is America’s biggest concern about the political situation of Burma?

AMBASSADOR MITCHELL: Biggest concern. The biggest concern I think is the defining challenge, in essence, of Burma post-independence which is its national unity and national reconciliation. The ability of the country to find a resolution to the division between the ethnic minorities, ethnic nationalities and the center, and the Burman majority. They’ve been basically at civil war, or at least had these constant internal conflicts I should say, since its inception as an independent nation. I think that remains the biggest concern that we all must have about the stability of the country, the sustainability, of the stability of the country.

You can have artificial stability through force of arms, but that’s not sustainable. The real sustainable stability inside the country comes from a political process of reconciliation: of dialogue, of trust, equality and goodwill on all sides. There’s a deep residue of mistrust, unfortunately, developed over years. This remains I think the biggest challenge, the biggest concern we all should have. I won’t speak for China, but I know there are cross-border impacts of all of this that affect you, affect Thailand, affect India, Bangladesh, and many of the neighbors. This is something we ought to think about and hopefully assist in the right way Burma’s development towards national reconciliation.

Democratic development is in the very, very nascent stage, very early stage. So we’re encouraged by some of the moves that have been made in terms of opening up the political process to allow Aung San Suu Kyi’s party to run in elections coming up. There is some more easing of restrictions on the media but only in certain arenas – sports, culture, that kind of thing. Not in the political realm. So they have a ways to go but their words are certainly encouraging. They talk about their commitment to democracy and their commitment to human rights. The parliament and the parliamentary speakers talk about building the parliament as an institution. They can perhaps do more debate, and initiation of policy, but it’s a very, very early stage of this new system that they have as well as of that commitment to development of democracy.

So if it is something that they’re committed to credibly then as we’ve stated, we will be interested to be a partner in that process and to help them develop the institutions and the mindset and kind of ways of thinking that undergird, and ways of acting that undergird a democracy. But I think it remains to be seen just how far they’re going to go and how much commitment they are going to have to democratic development over time.

QUESTION: [Inaudible] Which officials have you talked to during your trip in Beijing?

AMBASSADOR MITCHELL: The Director General of Asian Affairs, Luo Zhaohui.

QUESTION: And your topics?

AMBASSADOR MITCHELL: I talked about the Secretary’s trip, about our perspectives of my trips to Burma and what I’ve seen on the ground. We talked about some of the ways forward that we see potentially in policy and potential cooperation laying out, as I said, these areas of cooperation and common interest that I saw. I also tried to address some of the potential concerns that I’ve read about in the media about what we’re doing and clarify exactly what our intentions are and what the nature of our conversations are. And as I have here, where the issue of China has not been a factor in our conversations, it’s not been, but trying to preemptively clarify some of these issues.

Then tried to gain from him perspectives of China towards Burma policy and the way forward there. Very frankly discussing some of the dynamics inside the country as a first step to thinking, again, about a dialogue of cooperation.

QUESTION: My question is, what measures will the U.S.

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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.