Keep pressure on Myanmar, US envoy says
BANGKOK (Reuters) – The international community must keep
pressure on Myanmar’s generals to implement real political
reforms and begin talks with the opposition, a senior U.S.
diplomat said on Tuesday.
“They have got to reach out and have a real dialogue with
the opposition and start getting going. It’s gone on for many
years,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told
reporters in Bangkok.
The United States was looking at “a number of options for
how we can take this further,” Hill said without giving
Washington requested on Monday that a top UN official brief
the Security Council on his weekend meeting with detained
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her first contact with an
outsider in more than two years.
Ibrahim Gambari, the first senior UN official in two years
to be allowed into the former Burma, which has been under
military control since 1962, was expected to brief the council
The United States and other Western nations want to put
Myanmar formally on the council agenda to increase pressure on
Yangon to speed up reforms and free Suu Kyi, detained since May
2003, and more than 1,000 other political prisoners.
But China, Russia, Japan have said the council was
exceeding its mandate by involving itself in a human rights
issue which did not pose a threat to international peace and
Hill, in Bangkok to meet his counterparts in the 10-member
Association of South East Asian Nations, one of the few
international groupings willing to have Myanmar as a member,
urged them to continue pressing for change there.
“We hope in particular that ASEAN’s commitment and work
toward democracy can help resolve our shared concerns about the
problems in Burma,” he told the diplomats.
Myanmar proposed a seven-step plan in 2003 to end 44 years
of army rule, but the junta says it is only half way through
step one, drafting a new constitution.
Yangon’s foot-dragging has irked ASEAN, which forced
Myanmar to forego its chairmanship of the grouping this year.