18 May 2011

Top US official to visit Myanmar

WASHINGTON - A top diplomat from Washington will visit Myanmar for the highest-level US talks there since the junta's dissolution and the appointment of a nominally civilian government, the State Department said on Tuesday.

Mr Joseph Yun, the deputy US assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau, is scheduled to leave on Wednesday for Myanmar, also known as Burma, and stay until May 21, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

'Yun will hold introductory meetings with senior government officials in Burma,' Mr Toner told reporters, confirming the talks will be the highest since the new government was installed in March.

'He'll also consult a variety of stakeholders, including representatives of political parties, non-governmental organisations, ethnic minorities, as well as the business community,' Mr Toner added.

A State Department official said later on condition of anonymity that Mr Yun will also try to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, 65, who was released in November after spending most of the past 20 years under house arrest.

Her release came a few days after elections marred by accusations of cheating and intimidation. In March the military junta made way for a nominally civilian government after almost half a century in power and Mr Than Shwe, the general who ruled Myanmar with an iron fist for 19 years, retired as head of the military. Last month a friend of Ms Suu Kyi, Mr U Myint, was appointed as an adviser to Myanmar's president. -- The Straits Times

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