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541 words - May 22, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
The United States recognizes the important ongoing reform efforts underway by President Thein Sein, his government, Parliament, and key stakeholders among civil society to build a modern, peaceful, and democratic country; a fact sheet published by the US Department of State said, meanwhile the President of Myanmar (Burma) Thein Sein was paying an historic visit to the White House and meeting with his United States counterpart Barack Obama. This was the first visit by a leader of Myanmar in almost 50 years.
"Since President Obama's historic trip to Rangoon last November, the United States has continued to advocate for continued progress on reform by President Thein Sein's government, in close cooperation with Aung San Suu Kyi, civil society leaders, and the international community," a White House statement said ahead of the visit. The two leaders discussed the "many remaining challenges" and focused on how to develop democracy, end ethnic tensions particularly with the Rohingya Muslim minority in the Rakhine state, and improve the economic, social and human rights environment in Myanmar.
The visit of President Sein showed President Obama has kept his promise to regularize the relationship with Myanmar as soon as reforms, the political ones in particular, would be implemented. Indeed, "over the last two years, we've seen a steady process in which political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, have been released and have been incorporated into the political process," President Obama told President Sein in remarks after their bilateral meeting. "The improvement in our relation is also in recognition - US government's recognition of our democratization efforts and our genuine efforts for democratization process in our country," President Sein acknowledged.
Furthermore, a reporter pointed out at a White House press briefing that the United States called Burma as Myanmar and that President Obama and Press Secretary Jay Carney also did, implying the United States might have accepted the decades-long demand by the authorities of Myanmar that Burma be called Myanmar. "The United States government over time has begun to allow limited use of the name Myanmar as a diplomatic courtesy," explained Mr. Carney, reminding that "Burma has undertaken a number of positive reforms, including releasing over 850 political prisoners," therefore the United States government has responded by "more frequently using the name Myanmar," he added.
Although the historic visit of President Sein is a clear step in the right direction, the United States will still be closely monitoring the ongoing reforms which it still terms "fragile" and considers more has be to done regarding the establishment of a fully democratic system that respects ethnic minorities and subordinates the military to civilian oversight. According to President Obama, and "as President Sein is the first to admit, this is a long journey and there is still much work to be done." The democratization of Myanmar which is a developing country is a daunting task ahead of us, President Sein underlined.
"The United States underscores (the Obama administration's) commitment to (…) help the people of Burma realize the full potential of their extraordinary country," the US Department of State's fact sheet concluded. Despite the longstanding and still essential relationship it shares with China, Myanmar may count someday among the close partners of the United States within the framework of the global rebalance toward the Asia Pacific region.
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