State counsellor pays a visit to 10 Downing Street
Before leaving London yesterday, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met with Prime Minister Theresa May at the iconic British head of state’s residence, where the two discussed Brexit and Myanmar’s ongoing political transition.
STATE Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her delegation will arrive the US today where she is expected to meet with US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden before sitting in on Congress and dining with business leaders during the two-day trip.
The visit is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s first to the US since her National League for Democracy swept a landslide election victory last November, and she became the de facto head of state. The visit will also be the last under the outgoing Obama administration.
According to political analysts, hot topics up for discussion during the visit include a potential further easing of US sanctions on Myanmar, the nascent NLD-led government’s peace process and the state counsellor’s commitment to improving the human rights record in Rakhine State, where over 120,000 people, mainly stateless Muslims, remain segregated in IDP camps.
Political analyst Sithu Aung Myint told The Myanmar Times that he does not think the state counsellor will lobby for any changes to the sanctions when the issue is discussed.
“Daw Suu has said before that neither she nor the NLD can have an effect on the sanctions which are determined internally by the US. So changing them requires a US foreign policy decision,” he said.
However, the US has previously consulted Daw Aung San Suu Kyi before retooling the sanctions, including while she was an opposition leader under house arrest. In the past, she has recommended maintaining the blacklist in order to wield leverage against the Tatamdaw.
On September 12, the Kachin Alliance sent an open letter to President Obama asking him to think twice before removing from the blacklist individuals who profit from resources in ethnic minority areas that were “unjustly acquired through land grabs and cronyism”.
“In spite of the progress Burma has made, we strongly believe that withdrawing the remaining targeted sanctions on the military, its related entities and the cronies listed on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals and the deepening engagement with the Burma army (Tatmadaw) at this delicate transition would be gravely premature,” the alliance said in the letter.
In mid-May, the United States extended sanctions against Myanmar, adopting new measures targeted against Steven Law’s Asia World while removing some state-owned entities from its list. The US continues to apply sanctions on Myanmar under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which allows the US Treasury to blacklist certain individuals or companies. Most of the remaining sanctions deal with military-backed conglomerates, and the multi-billion-dollar jade and gems industries. (See related story on Business 8)
Before her arrival in Washington today, the state counsellor made a stopover in London. Following her studies at Oxford, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pursued a masters degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her two sons were born in London, and their UK citizenship has served as a constitutionally enshrined stumbling block to her assuming the presidency.
During her two-day stay in London, the state counsellor met with 12 ambassadors from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and also spent time with her younger son Kim Aris and her grandchildren.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson welcomed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to London on September 12 and they discussed the early priorities and challenges facing the new government in Myanmar, according to a statement released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
‘Daw Suu has said before that neither she nor the NLD can have an effect on the sanctions.’
Sithu Aung Myint Political analyst
Mr Johnson told the state counsellor, “The UK is pleased to have played an important role in bringing about Burma’s emergence from decades of repression and isolation. We remain committed to supporting Burma’s extraordinary reforms and we welcome a democratic, stable and prosperous Burma that can contribute to stability and security in South East Asia and beyond,” according to the statement.
Before departing for the US, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met with British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday at 10 Downing Street. The two reportedly talked about Brexit and Myanmar’s continued political transition.
British Prime Minister Theresa May (right) speaks with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the beginning of their meeting inside 10 Downing Street in central London yesterday.