NLD Should Work 'Constructively' with Govt: US

By Lalit K Jha 2 May 2012

WASHINGTON — The United States wants members of Burma’s main opposition party to take their seats in the country’s Parliament and work constructively with the government, a US State Department official said on Tuesday.

“From our perspective, we want to see these newly elected members take their seats. We want to see them work constructively with the government. We want to see the progress continue,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters during a daily press briefing.

The remarks came a day before the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) was set to enter Burma’s national legislature following a dispute over the wording of an oath to “safeguard” the country’s military-drafted Constitution.

The NLD announced on Monday that it had dropped its objections to the oath so it could join Parliament without further delay.

Toner said Washington also wanted to see the Burmese government keep up the momentum of its moves toward reform.

“In terms of any rolling back, we’re going to continue to keep a close eye on the progression of these reforms in Burma,” Toner said in response to a question.

“As we see progress, we’ll take steps on our end to recognize that progress. We are going to need to monitor things very closely as we move forward,” he added.

Toner’s remarks came a day after US President Barack Obama and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda discussed the issue of Burmese reforms during a meeting in Washington on Monday.

“We discussed the changes under way in Burma and how our two nations can both reward progress there while encouraging more reforms that improve the lives of the Burmese people,” Obama said at a joint White House news conference with Noda.

Burma also figured in a joint US-Philippines statement issued on Monday, and is expected to be one of the major topics of discussion when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Indian and Chinese leaders during her three-nation Asia trip beginning today.