Kerry urges fur­ther re­forms in Myan­mar

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

NAYPYI­DAW (Myan­mar)— U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry on Sun­day urged Myan­mar’s new civil­ian-led govern­ment to com­plete the Southeast Asian na­tion’s tran­si­tion to democ­racy by im­ple­ment­ing fur­ther re­forms to en­shrine free mar­kets, de­vel­op­ment and hu­man rights.

Speak­ing with Myan­mar’s for­eign min­is­ter and de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, after talks in the cap­i­tal of Naypyi­daw, Kerry pledged con­tin­u­ing U.S. sup­port for the coun­try and hailed progress it has made since Suu Kyi’s po­lit­i­cal party took of­fice in late March after win­ning his­toric elec­tions that ended decades of mil­i­tary con­trol.

“We strongly sup­port the demo­cratic tran­si­tion that is tak­ing place here,” Kerry said.

His visit came less than a week after the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion lifted sanc­tions against 10 state-run com­pa­nies and banks in a sweep­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tion of penal­ties im­posed while Myan­mar was un­der mil­i­tary rule. The ad­min­is­tra­tion, how­ever, left in place re­stric­tions on trade and in­vest­ment with the na­tion’s still-powerful mil­i­tary. The changes are in­tended to spur more U.S. in­vest­ment and sup­port eco­nomic growth un­der the new govern­ment, but also to en­cour­age more re­forms.

The U.S. waived its long­stand­ing bans on in­vest­ment and trade in 2012 after Myan­mar be­gan po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­forms, but re­tained re­stric­tions on dozens of com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als des­ig­nated by the Trea­sury’s Of­fice of For­eign As­sets Con­trol be­cause they op­pose re­form, or are im­pli­cated in hu­man rights abuses and mil­i­tary trade with North Korea. In ad­di­tion, the U.S. con­tin­ues to ban the im­port of jade and ru­bies from Myan­mar.

“The key to the lift­ing of the (re­main­ing) sanc­tions is re­ally the progress that is made within Myan­mar in con­tin­u­ing to move down the road of de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion,” Kerry said.—AP

US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry with Myan­mar’s For­eign Min­is­ter and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi dur­ing a meet­ing in Naypyitaw on Sun­day.

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