U.S. sees ‘flick­ers of progress’ in Burma; Clin­ton to visit

An op­por­tu­nity to help mil­lions, Obama says

Ottawa Citizen - - WORLD - DAMIEN MCEL­ROY

RAN­GOON • Hil­lary Clin­ton will next month be­come the most se­nior western of­fi­cial to visit Burma in decades as Washington in­ten­si­fies its ef­fort to en­cour­age what it called “flick­ers of progress” from the mil­i­tary regime.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama tele­phoned Aung San Suu Kyi, the op­po­si­tion leader and fel­low No­bel Peace Prize win­ner, from Air Force One to get her bless­ing for a visit by the U.S. sec­re­tary of state, the first in more than 50 years.

In a con­ver­sa­tion that was un­think­able just six months ago, U.S. of­fi­cials said that “the pres­i­dent was very struck by both her sub­stan­tive ob­ser­va­tions and her warmth. They 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.”

En route to a sum­mit in In­done­sia, where he will en­counter Thein Sein, Burma’s mil­i­tary-backed pres­i­dent, Obama said: “For decades Amer­i­cans have been deeply con­cerned about the de­nial of ba­sic hu­man rights for the Burmese peo­ple.”

He said that the cur­rent environment in Burma was a rare open­ing that could help mil­lions of peo­ple “and that pos­si­bil­ity is too im­por­tant to ig­nore.”

CHIP SOMODEVILLA, GETTY IM­AGES

Se­nate fi­nance com­mit­tee chair­man Max Bau­cus is sur­rounded by re­porters af­ter leav­ing a meet­ing with fel­low mem­bers of the joint se­lect com­mit­tee on deficit re­duc­tion, or ‘su­per­com­mit­tee,’ in the U.S. Capi­tol in Washington, D.C., on Fri­day. Mem­bers of...

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