Yangon, Dec 2: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today offered USD 1.2 million in new aid aimed at civil society in Myanmar in a bid to bolster reforms on a landmark visit to the long-isolated nation.
In a news conference at the end of her visit, Clinton said that the funding would support microfinance, healthcare and help for the victims of landmines in the war-torn country formerly known as Burma.
“We will take a number of steps to demonstrate our commitment to the people of this country,” said Clinton, who earlier in the day met civil society groups who have an uncertain role in a country long dominated by the military.
“We are prepared to go further if reforms maintain momentum,” Clinton said.
Clinton said that the United States would support civil society actors who cater to “critical needs throughout the country, particularly in the ethnic minority areas”.
A senior US official who accompanied Clinton said the new funding for the initiative would be USD 1 million. Another USD 200,000 will go to supporting landmine survivors and other victims of internal conflict, with a goal of raising that funding to USD 800,000, the official said.
Clinton also announced that the United States will launch a “substantial” English-language teaching initiative in Myanmar supported by the Hawaii-based East-West Center.
The senior official, who requested anonymity, expected millions of dollars for the language initiative and said the money would come from Brunei, which like many Southeast Asian nations has welcomed US engagement with Myanmar.