US open hand reaches out and touches Myanmar fist

By Daily Maverick Legacy 1 October 2009

The Obama administration has made an abrupt turn and begun engaging with the ruling generals in Myanmar, even as it economic and financial sanctions against the military regime. This engagement opens a way to put new pressure on the regime to ensure that democratic elections scheduled in 2010 are free, fair and inclusive of the political opposition and ethnic minority groups. On Monday, State’s top East Asia official, Kurt Campbell, said, "For the first time in memory, the Burmese leadership has shown an interest in engaging with the United States, and we intend to explore that interest." The USG will press Myanmar "to comply with its international obligations, including on non-proliferation, ending any prohibited military or proliferation-related cooperation with North Korea, and full compliance with UNSC resolutions". The US policy review began in February after SecState Clinton decided neither sanctions nor ASEAN’s engagement policies had achieved positive results in moving the regime towards democratic change and a new strategy was needed. Clinton explained regional security concerns, the flow of narcotics, human trafficking, refugee populations in nearby countries, and communicable diseases, as well as its links to North Korea, were crucial.

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