Kerry urges further reforms in Myanmar
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.