Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hillary Clinton’s historic visit to Burma

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will arrive in Burma on Wednesday marking the first official visit of a U.S. secretary of state in more than 50 years.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Photo: AFP
Clinton is traveling from South Korea. In Rangoon, she will stay at the Chatrium Hotel in Kandawgyi Garden. She will meet with Burmese President Thein Sein, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and political and social groups. Her stay will also include a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda.

Top U.S. officials including Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner; Counselor Cheryl Mills; Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma Derek Mitchell; and Policy Planning Director Jake Sullivan will accompany her.

On Thursday, Clinton will travel to Naypyitaw to meet with Burmese Foreign Affairs Minister Wunna Maung Lwin followed by a meeting with President Thein Sein in the presidential office. She will also meet with the two Burmese speakers of Parliamentary, Thura Shwe Mann and Khin Aung Myint.

Later on Thursday, she will return to Rangoon and meet with Aung San Suu Kyi at her home.

U.S. security personnel in civilian clothes have been posted around the hotel were Clinton will stay and will travel with her during her stay. Her visit is the first since John Foster Dulles visited Burma in 1955.

The U.S. is currently engaged in a re-balancing of its power in Asia and the Pacific in an effort to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

“America’s influence is decreasing in Southeast Asian and the Asia Pacific area, so it is trying to save its power. According to Burma’s geo-politics, if the U.S. wants to balance China’s power, Burma is essential,” said Dr. Hla Kyaw Zaw of the China-based Burma Communist Party.  

A former Burmese ambassador to China and a prominent politician, Thakhin Chan Tun, said the U.S. wants to moderate China’s influence, and it’s trying to establish better relations with Burma under the new Burmese government, which has taken preliminary steps toward a more democratic government.
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