Michael Posner, the State Department’s top human rights Official, and Derek Mitchell, Washington’s new special envoy for Burma, just wrapped up a trip to Rangoon and Naypyidaw this week. And following is the text of their press conference released by the US State Department at the end of their Burma trip.
Roundtable in Burma
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma
We also heard about steps that the government still needs to make, including the final adoption, signing of the Political Parties Registration Law, to allow legitimate political actors, including the NLD, to participate fully in the political life of this country. And we heard about the continuing conflict in ethnic areas, a continuation of decades of conflict in which many thousands of non-combatants have been the victims, and where serious abuses, including against women and children, continue.
So Assistant Secretary Posner is here this week on the issues of democracy, human rights and labor. Last week we had a senior representative from our Agency for International Development (USAID) to focus on the development aspect of things, which is also a critical component of our engagement and the well-being of citizens of this country. As part of that, one key element of this – and this is something we also have discussed in close consultation with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi – is extending and redoubling our efforts on microfinance and on agricultural loans. We have had a program on microfinance through USAID, but we are looking to expand that into the ethnic areas and to other parts of this country in order to assist the development at local levels. And it is something that was a factor in our conversation with Daw Suu today and was I think last week with USAID. So we look forward to coordinating that effort with other countries. And so we can expand what we consider to be a very fruitful area of great opportunity in our development strategy here, which is important to us.