Clinton Invites Burmese Foreign Minister to Washington

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, greets Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin in Naypyidaw in December. (Photo: Reuters)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has invited Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin for bilateral talks in Washington, claims a senior White House official.

The move comes in the wake of Sunday’s landmark by-elections which saw pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party gain 43 seats in the Burmese Parliament.

The US official added that more high profile visits from key Burma government figures were expected in the near future. “The Secretary [of State] has invited the [Burmese] foreign minister to visit. We [also] expect the minister of health to be visiting the Washington area in the near future.”

“Our intention here is to assertively engage and invite our key interlocutors, particularly those who have been supportive of reform, to the United States. So that’s really the direction that we’re seeking today,” the official told reporters during a conference call.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the senior administration insider said that, although the official travel ban on Naypyidaw bigwigs had not been lifted, in the coming months they hope to have a series of high profile visitors from Burma to continue dialogue between the two countries.

“There is no travel ban per se. There is no list. There is a travel ban, but there is no list. We have, as a general practice, prohibited and discouraged [travel] until very recently. I think as you know, [the State Department] hosted the foreign minister this fall when he came to Washington, and this is a part of a process where not only will we change that approach, we will encourage visitors, we will be inviting senior officials,” he said.

But facilitating travel, another official said, is a little bit more complicated. “The United States does not have one travel ban. Through a variety of sanctions, Burma has a number of interlocking and overlapping sanctions—but through a variety of sanctions, including an executive proclamation and what is called the 2008 JADE Act, we currently restrict the travel of certain Burmese persons to the United States, such as leaders of the military, those involved in repression of human rights and cabinet ministers and vice ministers,” the official said

“Now we are going to begin the process of using our travel sanctions to facilitate travel to the US, specifically for select reform-minded authorities who are constructively engaging with the United States and other members of the international community,” he added.

“We think easing these restrictions in a targeted manner will promote much greater dialogue, more confidence, and hopefully will allow us to gain greater confidence on some of our core concerns.”

This important step comes since Clinton announced an easing of travel and economic sanctions against Burma on Wednesday.

“I think it’s time, as the reform effort takes hold, for us to be able to invite senior and key players to Washington,” the official said. “You will see some invitations in the coming days that we look forward to reciprocating some of the hospitality that we have received on our visits there.”

Meanwhile, it appears that the White House has started using the term “Myanmar” instead of “Burma” in private conversation with Burmese officials, but insiders insist that there has been no change in their official position yet.

“The name Myanmar has been used historically, and in fact, Burma is the bastardization—it is what some of the British original settlers thought they heard when the people they interacted first used the term Myanmar,” a US official said.

“Even members of the NLD and others, when they write their country out in a letter, they use the word ‘Myanmar.’  However, it is the case that we—official practice, and you will have seen it today when Secretary Clinton spoke—is to continue to use the term ‘Burma,’” the official said.

Besides the US, the United Kingdom is currently the only other government in the world which officially uses the term “Burma.”


8 Responses to Clinton Invites Burmese Foreign Minister to Washington

  1. After lifting sanction there shall have more visit vis vis, especially ministry of health, education and energy ministry officials are important to visit US. A parliamentarian groups should also visit to US, then they will understand what is democracy, liberty and human rights. At the same time US should invite
    Burmese military mission lead by Vice Snr.General Min Aung Hlaing, so that Burma military will know how the world power are to-day.

  2. Name of our beloved country’s real correct pronunciation is ” Myanmar ” but Myanmar was occupied by British & under of British colony more than 100 years & British spelled out our country name as ” Burma “. When Junta in powered, they changed many Myanmar’s incorrect pronunciation to correct pronunciation including ” Burma ” to ” Myanmar ” but opposition groups couldn’t accept those changed even they also knew that Junta changed incorrect pronunciation to correct pronunciation because at that time opposition groups against what ever Myanmar Junta did.

    Anyway, most of Myanmar people including who staying & working in abroad, widely accept name of ” Myanmar ” because it is correct. But until now especially who staying in U.S, British, including today Myanmar people’s hero Daw Aung San Suu Kyi & people from opposition groups are still widely using our country name as ” Burma “. Anyway, I love name of ” Myanmar “. Even our country’s hero Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself & people from opposition people are using our country name as BURMA, of course U.S, British & …are keep using as ” BURMA “. I used to see many Myanmar nationality people saying abroad that they are not Myanmar. They are Chin, Karen, Shan, Mon& so on…. I want to ask them where did you born? where did you study? Don’t you eat any thing of food when you growing up in Myanmar for many years. Anyway, I love Myanmar even my parents are not Myanmar ethnic but we were born in Myanmar. Long Live Myanmar. Always living together all ethnics so that outsiders can’t invade again same as before 1948. Cheer Myanmar!

    • It is very shameful to cheer 1948 as independence without liberty, equality and justice. Nobody wish the outsider interfare out politics, economics and social-cultural affairs. Burma was free from British colonial master, but now under the control of Burma military government. Young generations who want life developments have to flee from the country and settle their live with hardship. Some were raped and killed. Some were sold to the prostitution houses. Being Buddist country, Burma government” killed the “Monks in 2007.” I live in ” Burma” called by the British. I live in Myanmar called by ” Bama” ethnic. No doubt, I love my country. Burma or Myanmar land belongs to ethnic minorities such as Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Mon , Arakanese and Shan including Bama. But Bama Government dominates and enjoys only for its interest. It does not care about the people.

  3. Our country always was “Myanmar”, the name “Burma” is a colonial vestige. Outsiders have no right in determining whether the name we choose is right or what we call our country. Of course the name was forced on us by the previous government so we were unwilling to use it. “Myanmar ” is the proper term for the whole country and “Bama” is the name of an ethnic group, one of many to inhabit Myanmar. I prefer Myanmar as it feels so nationalistic though Burma carries with it our history and identity.

  4. Using ” Burma or Myanmar” , non of them represent “ethnic” people. It is necessary to study ” which one” will represent the whole country. Historically, the British colonial master invaded the country in ” 1824, 1852 and 1885″ by three agressive wars during ” Bama Kings.” The British also knew there were ” Mon Kings” Shan Leaders” Kachin Leaders” Arakans Kings and others. Also, ” Karen and Kayah ( Karenni) were divided by the Ne win government. It was difficult for Bama to claim ” majority” in the country. In reality, ” it is a tricky” word to the “ethnic” and other non-Burman to accept the word ” Burma or Myanmar.” Even the alphabets used in ” Burmese language” is borrowed from ” Mon” language. Anyhow, we can distinguish that “Does Burma or Myanmar”represent for all people including “ethnic minorities?” If so, Do ethnic minorities use own scripts or they just use ” Burmese scripts?” If they use their own script, what is Burmese Language and its latter?” What is Myanmar Language and What is Myanmar Latter?”

  5. Foreign countries have the same dream to make profit out of other countries. From China to America, it is the same, with no sincere relation with other countries. Before starting business in Myanmar, Western countries and America should learn from example of multi-million Myitsone dam project which was suspended halfway through by the government.
    So, to those foreign countries, if you want to help us, help us first, dont help this government first. Otherwise, you will regret like China.

  6. George Than Setkyar Heine

    I don’t want to say much about the ex-military officer of Burma now parading as the foreign minister visiting Washington DC, as my anti-military organization (movement) is already BASED as well there.
    He will get a WARM RECEPTION when he lands there of course trust me.
    THROWING AWAY THE BY ELECTIONS IS NOT A BIG DEAL for Thein Sein folks.
    What SURPRISED ME is the fact the US, EU and the WEST as well have SWALLOWED the BAIT, HOOK, LINE and SINKER.
    The US and company MADE PRINCES OUT OF PAUPERS (Chinese) and now they are PAYING FOR IT – INDEBTED with Trillions of US Dollars – today.
    Hence, the Chinese communists are HOLDING SWAY ALL OVER Southeast Asia and the world in general today, NO THANKS to US and the WEST.
    And now the US, EU, UN and the rest are FALLING FOR THIS SIMPLE RUSE – letting win the April Fool’s Day elections – AGAIN and REWARDING the lot at Naypyidaw by LIFTING THE SANCTIONS.
    What about the STORY of freedom, democracy, human rights and Daw Suu’s RULE of LAW to reign supreme in Burma they have been TELLING to the PEOPLE of BURMA and the world in general?
    MEN/WOMEN and NATIONS on this earth STAND on their OWN PRINCIPLES/PRINCIPALS/SPINES (character, charisma, courage etc.) I have learned.
    I have NOTHING TO SAY in THIS MATTER in case BURMA’S FUTURE and PICTURE would be PAINTED in the FRAME of a THREE WAY SPLIT between CHINA, US(WEST) and the LOT at NAYPYIDAW of course.
    And FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS for THE PEOPLE of BURMA and of course Daw Suu’s RULE of LAW as well THROWN to the WOLVES at Naypyidaw would certainly complete the picture.
    However, I AM BANKING ON DAW SUU’S COURAGE and DISCRETION (to do the RIGHT THING and WELL) in THIS CASE/MATTER as the LAST GASP for that matter, honest to say.
    And I FERVENTLY BELIEVE IN DAW SUU and KNOW WHAT SHE IS DOING TODAY as well.
    VULTURES ARE HOVERING ABOVE and OVER BURMA lest Daw Suu forgets I say!

  7. King Anawrathar established Bangan Dynasty some historians wrote The first Myanmar Naing Gan and Bayinnaong established The Second Myanmar Naing later a commoner Along Phayar established The Third Myanmar Naing Gan then continue as Kone Baung Dynasty then British colonized given the name as Burma which was till used by elected government of U Nu, later last military regime changed the name as ” Myanmar ” its did not consist the word ” Naing Gan “. These are the reality. Any ruler has the rights to change the name of its country, but through the parliament or referendum. Whatever the junta government had been done, must regularize through parliament, without regularization it is not legal and had no legitimacy.

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