On Thursday night, President Obama phoned activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who just announced that her National League for Democracy party would run as a party in Burma, to make sure that she supports US engagement toward Burmese government reform. After Suu Kyi confirmed her support, Obama announced that Hillary Clinton would be making a visit to Burma, the first visit by a US secretary of state to Burma in more than 50 years.
Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has spent most of the last two decades as a political prisoner in Burma. Her release last year was seen as a sign of political progress.
A senior administration official said that Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi:
“Reviewed the progress that has been made in Burma, including her release, her dialogue with the government, the release of some political prisoners, and legislation that could open the political system further. It was important to the President that she welcome this deeper engagement by the US.”
According to the New York Post, Suu Kyi welcomed a visit from Clinton and encouraged the US to work with the Burmese government.
ABC News reports that Hillary Clinton will travel to Burma in December to see if the US can help Burma’s historically repressive government take steps toward reform. President Obama said:
“If Burma fails to move down the path of reform, it will continue to face sanctions and isolation. But if it seizes this moment, then reconciliation can prevail, and millions of people may get the chance to live with a greater measure of freedom, prosperity and dignity. And that possibility is too important to ignore.”
Here’s a video from CNN.
Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Aung San Suu Kyi are hopeful that Burma is heading in the right direction, but group Human Rights Watch is still a little skeptical. Human Rights Watch writes:
“With this backdrop, it is too early to know whether the government’s change of tone and talk of reform is cynical window-dressing or evidence that significant change will come to the country.”