Clinton Urges Asian Pressure on Burma for Free Elections
11 November 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is urging Asian countries to join
the United States in pressing Burmese authorities to make elections
planned for next year free, fair and credible. Clinton briefed fellow foreign ministers from
the APEC Pacific-rim countries in Singapore on the Obama
administration's efforts to engage the Burmese military government.
|US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses a press conference after attending APEC ministerial meetings in Singapore, 11 Nov 2009|
says bringing stability to Burma through political reform should be a
shared objective of that country's neighbors, including regional powers
India and China.
At a news conference after a day of meetings
with fellow foreign ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
forum, Clinton said the region already suffers from spill-over effects
of Burma's political problems.
"Left alone, the internal
problems within Burma are not confined within Burma's borders," she
said. "We have seen refugee flows out of Burma. People taking to
boats, ending up in Malaysia, ending up in Indonesia, ending up in
Australia, crossing the border into Thailand. That instability is not
good for anyone."
The Obama administration sent two senior
envoys last week to Burma to begin a promised attempt at dialogue with
Clinton said she has no illusions that
bringing change to Burma will be easy or quick and said U.S. sanctions
against the military government will remain in place until, as she put
it, "we see meaningful progress in key areas."
The United States
has demanded the release of detained Burmese democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi, though Clinton said under questioning the future role of the
Nobel peace laureate in the country's political life is for the Burmese
"We think this has to be resolved within the Burmese
people themselves, so we are not setting or dictating any conditions,"
she said. "We want to help facilitate the space and opportunity for
the Burmese people to work out the challenges they face in having free
and credible elections and setting forth a plan for a more prosperous
and peaceful future."
Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League
for Democracy Party won elections in 1990, but was barred from taking
office, was allowed to meet last week with the visiting U.S. diplomats.
A senior U.S. official who briefed reporters said Aung San Suu
Kyi is supportive of the U.S. outreach effort. He said the release of
Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under various forms of detention for
much of the past two decades, is "absolutely" necessary if the United
States is to move forward with any fundamental engagement with Burma.
President Barack Obama attends a summit-level session of the 21 APEC
countries here early next week and will also have a meeting Sunday with
the 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian nations.
is an ASEAN member country and its Prime Minister Thien Sein is
expected to take part in the session with Mr. Obama, though the White
House says they will not have a one-on-one meeting.