Kerry to Continue Clinton's US Policy on Burma

By Lalit K Jha 7 February 2013

WASHINGTON — The new US Secretary of State John Kerry will make no changes to US policy on Burma, the State Department said, adding that Kerry met with a group of Burmese women leaders on Wednesday, while one of his assistant secretaries is due to visit Burma next week.

“Yes,” said State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, when asked if Kerry is likely to continue with the US’ Burma policy that was started under his predecessor Hillary Clinton.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kerry met with four Burmese women activists who are visiting the US as part of a program supported by Goldman Sachs and The McCain Institute. The group included two members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, Khin Than New and Zin Mar Aung. The latter is on the party’s women’s affairs committee.

“I think he was very moved by the stories that they shared, and very moved that they are now able to live a different way and able to visit us and able to work for a better, more democratic Burma,” Nuland said.

The State Department also announced that the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock will travel to Burma next week to promote academic and cultural exchange opportunities between Burma and the US.

Stock will meet with Burma’s Minister of Education and other government officials, as well as civil society and youth organizations, and she will open the first-ever University Fair in Rangoon, which is being organized with US support, a State Department press release said.

In New York on Wednesday, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the ceasefire talks between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organization.

“The Secretary-General urges the parties to continue their efforts towards genuine and sustainable peace in Kachin and hopes that the latest developments would result in a silencing of the guns in Myanmar for the first time since its independence,” a spokesperson of Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.

On Monday, the warring parties agreed to cease their fighting and pursue peace talks after holding a meeting in China’s Yunnan Province on Monday. The government also decided to finally allow UN aid to reach displaced civilians in Kachin rebel-held territory.