Washington, Jan 14: The US will soon kick-off the process of exchanging ambassadors with Myanmar, upgrading diplomatic ties in recognition of the steps taken by the country’s regime towards political reforms, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday.
Hailing the release of the political prisoners as a “momentous day” for the people of Myanmar, Clinton said Washington is not gearing up to send an Ambassador to the country to effectively establish full-fledged diplomatic ties.
Currently, the head of the US mission in Myanmar is a charge d’affaires, who is a step below ambassador.
At a hurriedly convened press conference at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, Clinton said she would be calling Myanmar President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to underscore US’ commitment to support the country on its path of reform.
“As I said last December, the United States will meet action with action. Based on the steps taken so far, we will now begin,” Clinton said.
“In consultation with members of Congress and at the direction of President (Barack) Obama, we will start the process of exchanging ambassadors with Burma.
“We will identify a candidate to serve as US ambassador to represent the United States government and our broader efforts to strengthen and deepen our ties with both the people and the government,” she said.
Obama too praised the release of political prisoners in Myanmar, terming it a substantial step forward for democratic reform.
Noting that this would be a lengthy process and will depend on continuing progress and reform, Clinton said an American ambassador will help strengthen efforts to support the historic and promising steps unfolding in the country.
“I’ve also instructed my team at the State Department to identify further steps that the United States can take in conjunction with our friends and allies to support the reforms under way,” Clinton said.
Welcoming the release of political prisoners, Clinton said this is a substantial and serious step forward in the government’s stated commitment to political reform.
“I applaud it, and the entire international community should as well,” she said.
“Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed these dramatic steps as further indication of progress and commitment. Many of the people released today have distinguished themselves as steadfast, courageous leaders in the fight for democracy and human rights at critical times in their country’s recent history.
“And like all of the people of their country, they want and deserve to have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives,” she said.
Welcoming the news of a ceasefire agreement between the government and the Karen National Union, she said, the KNU has been involved in one of the longest-running insurgencies anywhere in the world, and entering a ceasefire agreement that begins to address the long-standing grievances of the Karen people is an important step forward.
“It is in that spirit that I urge the government to enter into meaningful dialogue with all ethnic groups to achieve national reconciliation, to allow news media and humanitarian groups access to ethnic areas,” Clinton said.