12/02/2011, 00.00
MYANMAR – UNITED STATES

Aung San Suu Kyi and Hillary Clinton together for Myanmar’s “new future”

After a private dinner last night, Myanmar’s opposition leader and US Secretary of State hold face-to-face meeting. For the Nobel Prize laureate, her country can get “on the road to democracy” and that “there will be no turning back”. Meanwhile, Burmese military and Shan militias announce ceasefire.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar can get “on the road to democracy,” said Aung San Suu Kyi after she met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I am very confident that if we work together [. . .] there will be no turning back from the road to democracy,” she added. Ms Clinton described what she discussed with Burmese President Thein Sein (see “Clinton in Naypyidaw opens “new chapter” in US-Myanmar relations,” in AsiaNews, 1 December 2011), and reiterated US support for the Nobel Prize laureate’s fight for democracy.

This morning the Burmese government and Shan militias signed a ceasefire deal in Taungyi, possibly bringing to an end decades of conflict. Tensions persist instead in the northern state of Kachin. Peace between the central government and the country’s ethnic minorities is one of the requirements, along with the release of political prisoners, the United States set for lifting sanctions against Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi met Hillary Clinton today at her home in Yangon, on Lake Inya, where she spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest until her release in November 2010 after she purged sentence.

The leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) believes that her country has a “new future” and counts on Washington’ support to pursue democratic reforms. However, a lot remains to be done after decades of iron-fisted military dictatorship.

The US Secretary of State, the highest ranking US official to visit Myanmar in more than 50 years, pledged the cooperation of US government and the support of US President Barack Obama who wrote a letter to Ms Suu Kyi, which Ms Clinton handed over in person.

At the end of her three-day visit, Secretary Clinton proposed US$ 1.2 million in aid to support Burmese civil society and reform. The money would go for micro-credit, health care and mine victims.

Today’s meeting follows last night’s dinner between Aung San Suu Kyi and Hillary Clinton at the US diplomatic mission in Yangon.

In her talks with President Thein Sein, Ms Clinton called on Myanmar to go further and take more incisive steps as a condition for lifting sanctions and reopening the US Embassy. For his part, President Obama called for a “new phase” in US-Myanmar relations.
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