Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Rodham Clinton’
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged Asian countries embroiled in simmering territorial disputes to work together to ease rather than raise tensions.
Recent flare-ups between Japan and China, China and many of its other neighbors, and Japan and South Korea have soured ties, prompting some leaders not to schedule their usual one-on-one meetings at a Pacific Rim summit that ended Sunday in the far-eastern Russian seaport of Vladivostok.
“Whether we’re talking about the South China Sea or the East China Sea, my message has been the same to everyone,” Clinton told reporters. “Now is the time for everyone to make efforts to reduce the tensions and strengthen diplomatic involvement toward resolving these tensions.”
Given the weakness of the global recovery, any confrontation that might raise doubts over stability and peace in the region would not be in anyone’s interest, said Clinton, who was attending the summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on behalf of President Barack Obama.
Clinton said she discussed the territorial issue with the leaders of Japan and South Korea, which are at odds over an islet claimed by both.
“I raised these issues with both of them, urging that their interests really lie in making sure that they lower the temperature and work together in a concerted way to have a calm and restrained approach,” she said.
“There does seem to be a recognition on the part of all of the leaders that this region of the world is the economic engine in what is still a fragile global economy,” Clinton said.
Clinton said she would work closely with the various Asian countries to help ensure the disputes do not balloon into more serious problems.
“We can’t let anything happen. It’s not in the interests of any of the Asian countries and it’s certainly not in the interests of the United States or the rest of the world to raise doubts and uncertainties about the stability and peace in the region,” she said.
Territorial disputes were not on the formal agenda of APEC, whose brief is to promote economic integration and more open trade.
As would be expected at a diplomatic event, despite recent acrimony over the territorial disputes, there were shows of civility. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, seated beside each other at the leaders’ “informal retreat,” were seen shaking hands as they sat down.
Noda and Chinese President Hu Jintao likewise were seen briefly chatting between meetings.
Afterward, Noda told reporters he had expressed his sympathy for the victims of an earthquake Friday in southwestern China that killed dozens of people.
“As for the Japan-China relationship, China’s growth is a chance for the world and we would like to develop it in a strategic manner,” Noda said.
Noda noted that Japan also needs to work with South Korea on issues related to rival North Korea, among other things.
Many of the disputed islands are only rock outcroppings, uninhabited or rarely visited. But nationalist fervor has inflamed public sentiment across the region, provoking violent protests in China.
The friction is partly driven by China’s increasingly assertive stance regarding its claims over resource-rich waters to the south and east. But the disputes also reflect pressures on relatively weak leaders anxious over public opinion, experts say.
Earlier during her Asian tour, Clinton urged members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations to present a united front to China in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea. She also discussed the issue with Chinese leaders during meetings in Beijing this week.
Associated Press writers Kaori Hitomi and Elaine Kurtenbach contributed to this report.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, …
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Myanmar President Thein Sein on Friday for landmark talks days after Washington eased its sanctions on the once-pariah state.
The pair began talks in the Cambodian tourist town Siem Reap on the sidelines of a business conference, after the US on Wednesday gave the green light to firms to invest in Myanmar, including in oil and gas, in its greatest loosening of tough sanctions so far.
They met amid concerns among rights groups the US is moving too fast in its eagerness to cash in on Myanmar’s vast business potential.
Washington on Wednesday gave the green light for firms to invest in the southeast Asian country, including in oil and gas, in its greatest loosening of sanctions to reward reforms after nearly half a century of military rule.
The decision will please US firms eager not to miss out on what some economists expect to be a goldrush in the resource-rich nation.
Asian firms have been doing business in Myanmar for years, while the European Union suspended most of its sanctions against the country in April.
Myanmar on Friday said Thein Sein and Clinton were expected to discuss changes that have swept Myanmar since a quasi-civilian government replaced the military junta last year.
“The meeting shows the support of the US government to Myanmar’s reform process,” Zaw Htay, director of the president’s office, told AFP.
Clinton acknowledged Friday in a speech to a women’s forum in the Cambodian tourist town of Siem Reap that in Myanmar “as the economy opens up, there will be new challenges”.
“It will be tempting, given the country’s extremely low wages, to try to attract investment by undercutting competitors like Bangladesh and Cambodia.”
But she argued long-term sustainable development would be strengthened if the nation’s leaders “focus on protecting workers, attracting quality jobs, and continuing to reform the political system”.
And she insisted Washington was setting up “protections to ensure that increased American investment advances rather than undermines the reform process” as US firms will have to report on transparency and labour rights.
Myanmar — along with regional neighbours — has called for all sanctions to be lifted as the country embarks on its “second wave” of economic reforms.
Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed the sanctions decision, but called for greater transparency at state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), which US firms will be able to do business with under the new rules.
Her comments were echoed by influential US Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, who said operations at the organisation “remain non-transparent and the billions of dollars in foreign investment that it receives remain unaccountable to the people and parliament of Burma”.
Human Rights Watch went further, saying Washington had “caved to industry pressure” because it did not insist on reforms in governance and human rights.
Thein Sein’s comments to the UN Thursday that refugee camps or deportation was the “solution” for stateless Muslim Rohingya, following communal violence last month in western Myanmar, are also likely to alarm Western nations.
Left impoverished by decades of economic mismanagement and isolation under army rule, the country is seen as the next big frontier in Asia for firms wanting to take advantage of its resources, cheap labour force, high growth potential and strategic position between China and India.
Thein Sein told the Singapore Straits Times his country would sign up to an Oslo-based initiative to enhance transparency of payments in the oil and minerals sector.
He told the daily that “foreign investment had to benefit the people of this country to help raise their incomes.”
Thein Sein will be introduced by Clinton at a US-ASEAN business forum Friday in Siem Reap which will be the largest ever gathering of American corporate leaders in Asia.
Executives from Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, DHL and Goldman Sachs are among dozens of US companies travelling to the conference.
A high-level delegation of US business leaders will be visiting Yangon and the capital Naypyidaw in the coming days.
PHNOM PENH, July 11 (Xinhua) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen here on Wednesday evening, discussing bilateral ties and regional issues.
During the one-hour meeting at the Peace Palace, Clinton highly evaluated good cooperation between the U.S. and Cambodia and emphasized that the two countries have much room to grow in terms of trade and investment, according to Eang Sophallet, spokesman for Hun Sen.
The U.S. is satisfied with the security cooperation with Cambodia and wishes to see further expansion in this cooperation, Clinton said.
The U.S. has decided to deepen the U.S.-ASEAN relations and cooperation, especially in the fields of disaster management, education, trade and investment, she said.
In regard to the Lower Mekong Initiative between the U.S. and Lower Mekong countries (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam), she said that she will announce on Friday to grant 50 million U.S. dollars for the development of the Lower Mekong countries.
On the issue of South China Sea, Clinton said that the U.S. hoped to see the ASEAN member states formulating the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) effectively, Eang Sophallet told reporters after the meeting.
Hun Sen said that the best way to solve the issue is the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and its guidelines in order to bind an effective COC.
Meanwhile, Hun Sen thanked the U.S. for flood relief to Cambodia last year and assistance to Lower Mekong countries, saying that the assistance is very vital to help expedite ASEAN integration towards a community in 2015 and narrow development gap among ASEAN member states.
PHNOM PENH, July 11 (Xinhua) — The ASEAN and the United States on Wednesday pledged to forge close ties in economy, politics, education, science and technology, according to a joint statement.
Held at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace, the ASEAN-U.S. foreign ministers’ conference was co-chaired by Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. Del Rosario and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The U.S. announced the Asia Pacific Strategic Engagement Initiative designed to increase U.S. assistance to the region, reaffirming the U.S. commitment to advance its partnership with ASEAN.
The Ministers noted with satisfaction the enhancing and expanding of the ASEAN-U.S. cooperation, which has contributed to the maintenance of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
ASEAN welcomed the U.S. proposal for the “Commitment to Connectivity: ASEAN-U.S. Business Forum” to be held on July 13 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, saying that the forum will bring together ASEAN and U.S. senior officials and business leaders to discuss how best to align public and private efforts to support ASEAN integration and connectivity.
ASEAN welcomed the U.S. support to the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which constitutes an important component for bridging the development gap within ASEAN.
ASEAN welcomed efforts by the U.S. to increase its investment in the Lower Mekong Region through the Lower Mekong Initiative to advance ASEAN integration and connectivity.
ASEAN welcomed the U.S. announcement to launch an ASEAN Fullbright pilot program and commended efforts to invigorate science and technology cooperation, particularly in the area of health service.
The meeting recognized the growing significance of maritime cooperation in the region and underscored the importance to regional peace and stability of ensuring maritime safety, freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea.
“The meeting expressed support for the full and effective implementation of the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), as well as the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS,” the statement said.
However, the Chinese side stressed that the DOC was jointly signed by China and ASEAN countries in 2002, and should be complied by all members concerned. Otherwise, it will undermine mutual trust.
Some ASEAN countries proposed to start discussion on a code of conduct in the South China Sea. The Chinese side expressed willingness to consider the proposal seriously and hopes to be able to start discussion on COC when conditions are ripe.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
AFP, 12 July 2012
The United States is committed to helping ordinary Cambodians rather than funding vanity projects, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday, in a subtle dig at China-backed schemes in the country.
“The United States remains strongly committed to working with and supporting Cambodian people,” Clinton told reporters after attending a regional security forum in the capital Phnom Penh.
“Sometimes it is a little frustrating, I will admit, for the United States because we channel our aid in so far as possible to the people themselves,” she said.
“So we cannot point to a big building we have built. But we can point to more children being alive, more people surviving HIV/Aids, more women surviving child birth.”
Clinton was giving the press conference next door to the imposing Council of Ministers building, where the region’s media has been stationed for this week’s Asian security talks, and which was paid for by China.
China has poured billions of dollars in loans and investment into close ally Cambodia in recent years, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen regularly praises Beijing’s “no-strings-attached” aid.
ASEAN struggles over maritime dispute with China…from Ile de Peste Nom Benh a la mode de prince Xeehanouk
AFP,11 July 2012
China and Southeast Asian countries struggled to make progress Wednesday on a code of conduct designed to ease tension in the flashpoint South China Sea, diplomatic sources said.
The two sides were due to meet at a summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Cambodia amid splits on what the code should include and how it should be implemented.
A joint statement to be issued by ASEAN foreign ministers was also held up as countries wrangled over whether to include a reference to recent spats over the resource-rich area pitting China against Vietnam and the Philippines.
“ASEAN foreign ministers are having an emergency meeting to resolve the wording on the South China Sea in the joint statement,” one Asian diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Another spoke of “splits and divisions” in the organisation, principally between the Philippines and the chair of the meeting, staunch Chinese ally Cambodia.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa admitted the debate about whether to mention recent incidents, including a standoff between Philippine and Chinese ships last month over Scarborough Shoal, remained a sticking point.
The shoal, an outcrop in the South China Sea, is claimed by both countries.
“It’s very important for us to express our concern with what happened whether it be at the shoals, whether it be at the continental shelves,” he told reporters.
“But more importantly than simply responding to the past is to move forward to ensure that these kind of events no longer occur.”
Manila is leading a push for ASEAN to unite to persuade China to accept a code of conduct based on a UN law on maritime boundaries that would delineate the areas belonging to each country.
Beijing has said it is prepared to discuss a more limited code aimed at ”building trust and deepening cooperation” but not one that settles the territorial disputes, which it wants to negotiate with each country separately.
ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan told reporters Wednesday that the fact the code was under discussion “is already having a calming effect on all parties”.
Efforts to produce one began 10 years ago, but nations were now engaging seriously and efforts were being made to “move along”, he said.
Planned talks between ASEAN and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Liechi were repeatedly delayed, however, with a meeting originally scheduled for the morning slipping to a late afternoon slot.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to arrive in Cambodia for a wider regional Asian summit on Thursday, with Washington also pushing for progress on reducing friction in a key shipping lane that is vital to the world economy.
“We look to ASEAN to make rapid progress with China toward an effective code of conduct in order to ensure that as challenges arise, they are managed and resolved peacefully,” Clinton said in Vietnam on Tuesday.
She said that the South China Sea would be discussed alongside other areas of mutual concern at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which groups 26 Asia-Pacific countries and the European Union and starts Thursday.
This risks irking Beijing after the Chinese foreign ministry warned on Tuesday against “hyping” the problem and said it should be kept out of the summit.
“This South China Sea issue is not an issue between China and ASEAN, but between China and some ASEAN countries,” foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters.
“Hyping the South China Sea issue… is against the common aspirations of the people and the main trends of the time to seek development and cooperation.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary visit Lao PM
VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Laos in more than five decades, gauging whether a place the United States pummeled with bombs during the Viet War could evolve into a new foothold of American influence in Asia.
Clinton met with the communist government’s prime minister and foreign minister in the capital of Vientiane on Wednesday, part of a weeklong diplomatic tour of Southeast Asia. The goal is to bolster America’s standing in some of the fastest growing markets of the world, and counter China’s expanding economic, diplomatic and military dominance of the region.
Thirty-seven years since the end of America’s long war in Indochina, Laos is the latest test case of the Obama administration’s efforts to “pivot” U.S. foreign policy away from the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It follows a long period of estrangement between Washington and a once hostile Cold War-era foe, and comes as U.S. relations warm with countries such as Myanmar and Vietnam.
In her meetings, Clinton discussed environmental concerns over a proposed dam on the Mekong River, investment opportunities and joint efforts to clean up the tens of millions of unexploded bombs the U.S. dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War. Greater American support programs in these fields will be included in a multimillion-dollar initiative for Southeast Asia to be announced later this week.
After the meetings, she said they “traced the arc of our relationship from addressing the tragic legacies of the past to finding a way to being partners of the future.”
Clinton also visited a Buddhist temple and a U.S.-funded prosthetic center for victims of American munitions.
At the prosthetic center, she met a man named Phongsavath Souliyalat, who told her how he had lost both his hands and his eyesight from a cluster bomb on his 16th birthday.
“We have to do more,” Clinton told him. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here today, so that we can tell more people about the work that we should be doing together.”
The last U.S. secretary of state to visit Laos was John Foster Dulles in 1955. His plane landed after being forced to circle overhead while a water buffalo was cleared from the tarmac.
At that time, the mountainous, sparsely populated nation was at the center of U.S. foreign policy. On leaving office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned his successor, John F. Kennedy, that if Laos fell to the communists, all Southeast Asia could be lost as well.
While Vietnam ended up the focal point of America’s “domino theory” foreign policy, Laos was drawn deeply into the conflict as the U.S. funded its anti-communist forces and bombed North Vietnamese supply lines and bases.
The U.S. dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on the impoverished country during its “secret war” between 1964 and 1973 — about a ton of ordnance for each Laotian man, woman and child. That exceeded the amount dropped on Germany and Japan together in World War II, making Laos the most heavily bombed nation per person in history.
Four decades later, American weapons are still claiming lives. When the war ended, about a third of some 270 million cluster bombs dropped on Laos had failed to detonate, leaving the country awash in unexploded munitions. More than 20,000 people have been killed by ordnance in postwar Laos, according to its government, and contamination throughout the country is a major barrier to agricultural development.
Cleanup has been excruciatingly slow. The Washington-based Legacies of War says only 1 percent of contaminated lands have been cleared and has called on Washington to provide far greater assistance. The State Department has provided $47 million since 1997, though a larger effort could make Laos “bomb-free in our lifetimes,” California Rep. Mike Honda argued.
“Let us mend the wounds of the past together so that Laos can begin a new legacy of peace,” said Honda, who is Japanese-American.
The U.S. is spending $9 million this year on cleanup operations for unexploded ordnance in Laos, but is likely to offer more in the coming days.
It is part of a larger Obama administration effort to reorient the direction of U.S. diplomacy and commercial policy as the world’s most populous continent becomes the center of the global economy over the next century. It is also a reaction to China’s expanding influence.
Despite America’s difficult history in the region, nations in Beijing’s backyard are welcoming the greater engagement — and the promise of billions of dollars more in American investment. The change has been sudden, with some longtime U.S. foes now seeking a relationship that could serve at least as a counterweight to China’s regional hegemony.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has made significant strides toward reform and democracy after decades as an international pariah, when it was universally scorned for its atrocious labor rights record and its long repression of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy movement. The Obama administration is expected to ease investment restrictions in the country this week.
Vietnam, threatened by Beijing’s claims to the resource-rich South China Sea, has dramatically deepened diplomatic and commercial ties with the United States, with their two-country trade now exceeding $22 billion a year — from nothing two decades ago. Clinton on Tuesday made her third trip to the fast-growing country, meeting with senior communist officials to prod them into greater respect for free expression and labor rights.
Landlocked and impoverished Laos offers fewer resources than its far larger neighbors and has lagged in Asia’s economic boom. It remains one of the poorest countries in Asia, even as it hopes to kick-start its development with accession soon to the World Trade Organization.
In recent years, China has stepped up as Laos’ principal source of assistance, with loans and grants of up to $350 million over the last two decades. But like many others in its region, Laos’ government is wary of Beijing’s intentions. And it has kept an envious eye on neighboring Vietnam’s 40 percent surge in commercial trade with the United States over the last two years, as well as the sudden rapprochement between the U.S. and nearby Myanmar.
Persistent human rights issues stand in the way of closer relations with Washington. The U.S. remains concerned about the plight of the ethnic Hmong minority, most of whom fled the country after fighting for a U.S.-backed guerilla army during the Vietnam War. Nearly 250,000 resettled in the United States. The U.S. has pressed Laos to respect the rights of returnees from neighboring countries.
Washington also has been seeking greater cooperation from Laos on the search for U.S. soldiers missing in action since the Vietnam War. More than 300 Americans remain unaccounted for in Laos.
And it is pressing the government to hold off on a proposed $3.5 billion dam project across the Mekong River. The dam would be the first across the river’s mainstream and has sparked a barrage of opposition from neighboring countries and environmental groups, which warn that tens of millions of livelihoods could be at stake.
The project is currently on hold and Washington hopes to stall it further with the promise of funds for new environmental studies.
NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun a historic visit to the long-isolated Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar to test the country’s first civilian government in decades on its commitment to reform, including severing military and nuclear ties with North Korea.
Clinton arrived Wednesday in the capital of Naypyidaw on the first trip by a U.S. secretary of state to the nation also known as Burma in more than 50 years. She is to meet senior Myanmar officials Thursday before heading to the commercial capital of Yangon, where she will see opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is returning to the political scene after years of detention and harassment.
“I am obviously looking to determine for myself and on behalf of our government what is the intention of the current government with respect to continuing reforms both political and economic,” Clinton told reporters before her arrival here.
She declined to discuss the specific measures she would suggest or how the U.S. might reciprocate.
“We and many other nations are quite hopeful that these flickers of progress … will be ignited into a movement for change that will benefit the people of the country,” she said, echoing President Barack Obama when he announced he was sending her to Myanmar.
The Obama administration is betting that the visit will pay dividends, promoting human rights, limiting suspected cooperation with North Korea on ballistic missiles and nuclear activity and loosening Chinese influence in a region where America and its allies are wary of China’s rise.
Officials say Clinton will be seeking assurances from Myanmar’s leaders that they will sign an agreement with the U.N. nuclear watchdog that will permit unfettered access to suspected nuclear sites. The U.S. and other Western nations suspect Myanmar has sought and received nuclear advice along with ballistic missile technology from North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions. A U.S. official said missiles and missile technology are of primary concern but signs of “nascent” nuclear activity are also worrying.
Clinton also will note the government’s baby steps toward democratic reform after 50 years of military rule that saw brutal crackdowns on pro-democracy activists like Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy party.
Clinton’s private dinner on Thursday and formal meeting with Suu Kyi on Friday probably will be the highlights of the visit. Suu Kyi, who intends to run for parliament in upcoming elections, has welcomed Clinton’s trip and told Obama in a phone call earlier this month that engagement with the government would be positive. Clinton has called Suu Kyi a personal inspiration.
The trip is the first major development in U.S.-Myanmar relations in decades and comes after the Obama administration launched a new effort to prod reforms in 2009 with a package of carrot-and-stick incentives.
One senior official accompanying Clinton on the trip described the administration’s early efforts as “abysmal failures” but said the situation had improved notably in recent months. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the administration’s internal thinking.
The rapprochement sped up when Myanmar held elections last year that gave power to a new government that pledged greater openness. The administration’s special envoy to Myanmar has made three trips to the country in the past three months, and the top U.S. diplomat for human rights has made one.
Those officials pushed for Clinton to make the trip, deeming a test of the reforms as worthwhile despite the risks of backsliding.
President Thein Sein, a former army officer, has pushed reforms forward after Myanmar experienced decades of repression under successive military regimes that canceled 1990 elections that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won.
Last week, Myanmar’s parliament approved a law guaranteeing the right to protest, which had not previously existed, and improvements have been made in areas such as media and Internet access and political participation. The NLD, which had boycotted previous flawed elections, is now registered as a party.
But the government that took office in March is still dominated by a military-proxy political party, and Myanmar’s commitment to democratization and its willingness to limit its close ties with China are uncertain.
Corruption runs rampant, hundreds of political prisoners are still jailed and violent ethnic conflicts continue in the country’s north and east. Human rights activists have said Clinton’s visit should be judged on improvements in those conditions.
Myanmar’s army continues to torture and kill civilians in campaigns to stamp out some of the world’s longest-running insurgencies, according to rights groups. They say ongoing atrocities against ethnic minorities serve as a reminder that reforms recently unveiled by the country’s military-backed government to worldwide applause are not benefitting everyone.
Aid groups have reported atrocities that occurred as recently as last month: A village leader was killed, allegedly by soldiers, for helping a rebel group, his eyes gouged out and his 9-year-old son buried beside him in a shallow grave. The boy’s tongue was cut out.
With minorities making up some 40 percent of Myanmar’s 56 million people and settled in some of its most resource-rich border regions, resolution of these brutal conflicts is regarded by all sides as crucial. The fighting has uprooted more than 1 million people, now refugees within their country or in neighboring Thailand and Bangladesh.
And, although the government suspended a controversial Chinese dam project earlier this year, China laid down a marker ahead of Clinton’s trip by having its vice president meet the head of Myanmar’s armed forces on Monday.
China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Vice President Xi Jinping pledged to maintain strong ties with Myanmar and encouraged Gen. Min Aung Hlaing to push for solutions to unspecified challenges in relations.
Myanmar also remains subject to tough sanctions that prohibit Americans and U.S. companies from most commercial transactions in the country.
U.S. officials say Clinton’s trip is a fact-finding visit and will not result in an easing of sanctions. But officials also say that such steps could be taken if Myanmar proves itself to be serious about reform. Other steps being contemplated include upgrading diplomatic relations that would see the two countries exchange ambassadors.
Despite high hopes, U.S. officials remain decidedly cautious about prospects for Clinton’s visit. That caution has been echoed by some members of Congress, who have expressed concern that the trip is an undeserved reward for the regime.
“I am concerned that the visit of the secretary of state sends the wrong signal to the Burmese military thugs that cosmetic actions … are sufficient for the U.S. to engage the regime,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Secretary Clinton’s visit represents a monumental overture to an outlaw regime whose DNA remains fundamentally brutal.”
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Ed Royce, D-Calif., urged Clinton to make Myanmar’s dealings with North Korea a top priority of her trip.