Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Free Suu Kyi and the US May Invest in Burma: Clinton

what a carrot...!!!

The Irrawaddy News

PHUKET, Thailand—The United States would be willing to expand its relations with Burma if the country's military junta released opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday in Phuket.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) waves as she arrives for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum on the Thai island of Phuket. (Photo: AFP)

“We are calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, which we believe is very important," she told reporters at a press conference.

“And if she were released, that would open up opportunities, at least for my country, to expand our relationship with Burma, including investments in Burma. But it is up to the Burmese leadership," Clinton added.

The US has imposed economic sanctions on Burma since 1997, preventing new US investment in the military-ruled country. The US set tighter economic sanctions that banned importing goods from Burma in 2003, following an attack on Suu Kyi's convoy by regime-backed thugs at Depayin in northern Burma.

At Wednesday's press conference, Clinton repeated US concerns over the military cooperation between Burma and North Korea, and the pursuit of "offensive weapons including nuclear weapons."

“There are a lot of issues that Burma raises for the entire region, not just the United States," she said. "I think it is important to encourage the Burmese leadership to begin to open up, to pursue the model other Asean countries are following."

Clinton told reporters at the press conference in Bangkok on Tuesday that the Obama administration is concerned about the increasing military ties between North Korea and Burma.

“We know that there are also growing concerns about military cooperation between North Korea and Burma, which we take very seriously. It would be destabilizing for the region," Clinton said. "It would pose a direct threat to Burma’s neighbors. And it is something, as a treaty ally of Thailand, that we are taking very seriously."

Clinton, who is now attending the Asean Regional Forum in Phuket, said that Burma is moving in the opposite direction from other Southeast Asian countries, which, like the United States, want the Burmese military government to change their behavior.

Clinton added that the Burmese junta would have a better future by turning away from isolation and treating their own people better.

During an interview on The Nation Thai television network, Clinton said Asean should consider expelling Burma from the regional bloc if the junta fails to release pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi.

Before flying to Phuket, Clinton met several activists in Bangkok, including Dr Cynthia Maung, founder of the Mae Tao Clinic for Burmese migrants and refugees in the Thai-Burmese town of Mae Sot.

After fleeing the 1988 uprising, Cynthia Maung set up a clinic in Mae Sot where she and her medical workers treat refugees and migrant workers. The former US first lady Laura Bush visited her clinic in August 2008.

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