New Burmese Ambassador Meets Obama

By Lalit K Jha 30 July 2012

The new Burmese Ambassador to the United States Than Swe will present his credentials to President Barack Obama on Monday to formally revive the top diplomatic post between the two countries.

The credentials ceremony, which is closed to the press, is to be held at the White House, an official announcement said on Sunday. “The presentation of credentials is a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an ambassador’s service in Washington,” said in the statement.

Last week, Than Swe presented his credentials to Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department. Until recently he was Burma’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York.

Than Swe is the first person to assume the prestigious post since 2004 when Lynn Myaing served as the 17th Burmese Ambassador to the US. Afterwards the Burmese government instead appointed a Charge d’Affairs.

Burma initially established diplomatic relationship with the US in 1947 when Soe Nyunt was appointed as the first Burmese ambassador.

Early this month, new US Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell similarly presented his credentials to Burmese President Thein Sein in Naypyidaw, thus reestablishing full diplomatic relations. Dealings between the two nations are finally normalizing with the easing of economic sanctions after Thein Sein’s reformist administration took office last year.

The 2005 defection of Aung Lin Htut, deputy chief of mission at the Burmese Embassy in Washington DC at the time, was considered major diplomatic disaster for the military government.

In his letter to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the most senior Burmese diplomat in the US described Burma as a “tyranny” and he said “he and his family face arrest and possible death if they return.”