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U.S. State Department and FBC React to Burmese Military Government's Statement - 2003-02-21


Burma's military government, under the threat of fresh economic sanctions, has invited the United States to enter a dialogue on the country's future economic and political development.

In a statement (issued Thursday), Burma said it would welcome American advice on how to make the transition to a stable democracy.

The Burmese statement expressed disappointment at the suggestion, made last week by Lorne Craner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, at Free Burma Coalition's sixth Annual Conference which was held at George Washington University.

Mr. Craner said, “The United States already has tough sanctions on Burma in place. We have imposed an arms embargo and an investment ban, among other measures. Only our sanctions on Iraq are tougher. If there is significant progress towards a transition to democratic rule and greater respect for human rights as a result of dialogue between Aung San Suu Kyi and the regime, the United States would look seriously at measures to support this process.”

The U.S. State Department spokeperson Richard Boucher responded at a regular press briefing regarding SPDC’s Statement on February 20.

He said, “Well, we saw the statement, but the fact is the Burmese have not raised a proposal with us on what they call a constructive dialogue. At this point, we're not really prepared and in a position to comment on the idea. We would, of course, welcome concrete steps by Burma to move towards democracy and greater respect for human rights. The critical dialogue is the one between the regime and Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy."

Dr. Zarni, founder of Free Burma Coalition welcomed SPDC’s latest invitation to U.S. to be involved in the process of Burma's smooth democratic transition.

He said, “However, Burmese military leaders ought to have long over due dialogue with opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi together with CRPP (Committee Representing Peoples’ Parliament) and other ethnic nationalities in Burma. SPDC leaders should not seek for short-term solution to solve the current crisis in Burma.”

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