Clinton Offers Aid, But Insists Burma Cuts Military Ties with Pyongyang

By Lalit K Jha 27 September 2012

WASHINGTON—During an hour-long meeting with Burmese President Thein Sein, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, offered humanitarian aid, American assistance in resolving Burma’s ethnic issues and with landmines, but insisted that Burma should cut off any kind of military relationship with North Korea.

Held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the Clinton-Thein Sein meeting not only reviewed the progress in their bilateral relationship, but also chalked out details of the next phase of relationship, a senior US administration official said. This was the third meeting between the two leaders.

Clinton also exchanged notes with Thein Sein on the ongoing US visit of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and her meetings with her. Describing it as a warm meeting, the senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity said that the two leaders have really gotten to know each other quite well.

“We would like to help in any way we can in the reconciliation process, in the peace process,” the senior administration official said, quoting Clinton, and adding that Thein Sein welcomed the comment.

“We are also wanting to help [Burma] in several other areas,” the US official said. “For example, they still have a lot of landmines, which is a legacy issue between the wars … with the ethnic groups, and we want to help with those.”

Clinton also said that a lot of work still remains to be done, particularly noting that there are still political prisoners in Burma, and that peace agreements have yet to be reached with ethnic groups.

Finally she spoke about nonproliferation, and insisted that Burma “cut off any kind of military relationship with North Korea,” the official said.

“I think President Thein Sein very much agreed with that view,” the official said, adding that the US “would like to help as much as we can in terms of humanitarian assistance.”

During the hour-long discussion, the pair reviewed events that have occurred since they last met in July.

Another US official told reporters that the Secretary of State also offered help in governance, in particular addressing the issue of corruption.