WASHINGTON—US President Barack Obama will be joined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while visiting Burma later this month during which dialogue will focus on pushing for further democratic reform.
“In Burma, the president will use his historic visit—the first by a US president—precisely to continue to press for democratic reform, national reconciliation, economic growth, and improvements in the bilateral relationship between the United States and Burma,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at a news conference.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland revealed that Clinton will accompany Obama to Burma on Nov. 19 and join meetings with reformist President Thein Sein and National League for Democracy chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi. This will be Clinton’s second visit to Burma in less than a year.
In his maiden press conference after Obama’s re-election on Tuesday, Carney praised the progress being made by the Burmese government with regards democracy and human rights reforms, but emphasised that the former pariah nation still had a long way to go.
“There has been extraordinary progress made since President Obama announced our opening to Burma last year, but much more work remains to be done to advance and consolidate democratic change,” he said. “Supporting democracy and human rights is a fundamental principle behind the president’s policy in the region and the world, and he will carry that message on this trip.”
Describing this as a “historic” and “important” visit, Carney said, “The president’s message will be clear, which is to recognize the extraordinary progress that’s been made, but recognize also and speak clearly about the fact that more work needs to be done.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International on Friday expressed its opposition to Obama’s visit to the military-dominated nation and announced a protest rally will be held outside the White House on Nov. 15.
“As his first act after re-election, Obama is going to visit Burma, a country rife with Human Rights abuses. He will be the first US president ever to visit Burma. His visit may strengthen Burmese leaders in their resolve to continue abusing human rights,” said the advocacy group.
“He should call for the release of all political prisoners; an immediate stop to abuses against the Rohingya Muslim minority and an immediate stop to abuses against other ethnic minorities.”