I am a Burmese exile taking a near-permanent refuge in New York and Sydney. Here are my essays about Burma and anything else I feel like writing about. And posting the articles I like from selected sites. Bridging Burma to the world this Blog is more of a Politically-Oriented Literary Blog than a Plain News Blog or a Sophisticated Thoughts Blog.
WASHINGTON —Myanmar’s opposition leader,Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, called for the lifting of American sanctions against her country on Tuesday, beginning an emotional visit to the United States that punctuated the remarkable shift in relations with Myanmar over the past year.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who until recently remained wary of removing the sanctions that have long isolated her country, said they had served their purpose politically, and she urged the United States to engage broadly with the country’s leaders to help build a new democracy.
“I do not think we should depend on U.S. sanctions to keep up the momentum of our new democracy,” she said at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington. “We have got to work at it ourselves. There are very many other ways in which the United States can help us to achieve our democratic ends.”
For Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who is widely revered here for her struggle against Myanmar’s military leaders, the visit amounted to a political homecoming to a country she had not visited since she worked at the United Nations from 1969 to 1971.
The mere fact of the visit would have been virtually unimaginable even a year ago, when the administration first began to test a political opening after U Thein Sein a former general, became president and began taking steps to move the country away from its authoritarian past.
“We are not yet at the end of our struggle,” she said after being warmly applauded by current and former officials when she arrived at the institute, accompanied by Secretary of StateHillary Rodham Clinton, “but we are getting there.”
The Obama administration has already significantly eased sanctions against Myanmar, also known as Burma, allowing American companies to invest in many areas of the economy. But it has left other sanctions in place — with even suspended sanctions remaining on the books — to guard against what Mrs. Clinton described on Tuesday as the risk of “backsliding” by hard-liners.
Saw Suu arriving Washington.
“There are forces that would take the country in the wrong direction if given the chance,” said Mrs. Clinton, who met with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi at the State Department on Tuesday morning. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi did not specify which sanctions she wanted lifted. One of the most punitive restrictions left in place is a ban of virtually all Burmese imports to the United States.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to have a series of public and private meetings with administration officials, lawmakers and democracy advocates. The White House has not announced whether she will meet with President Obama.
She will receive Congress’s highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, in the Capitol’s Rotunda on Wednesday, four years after she was awarded it in absentia while under house arrest.
Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi first met last December at the lakeside villa in Yangon where the democracy advocate spent 15 years under house arrest. They have since remained in regular contact as the United States has returned an ambassador to the country and taken other steps to restart something close to normal relations.