Obama Officials to Brief Lawmakers on Burma

By Lalit K Jha 25 April 2012

Top officials of the Obama administration will brief two key US congressional committees on Burma this week, as Washington considers possible changes to its longstanding sanctions policy toward the Southeast Asian country.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific said it will receive testimony from senior administration officials on Wednesday, and will examine the recent elections in Burma, the administration’s relaxation of sanctions and the future role of USAID in Burma.

The subcommittee will also examine how the international community is assisting US aid efforts, and ways to improve those efforts, an official announcement said. The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a similar hearing on Thursday.

Assistant Secretary of State for South East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell will testify before both committees over the next two days.

Burma was also an important issue of discussion between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Australian counterpart, Robert Carr.

“We discussed a number of regional issues, including North Korea’s recent missile launch [and] the encouraging political and economic reforms taking place in Burma. We are both working to try to assist the reform process in Burma,” Clinton told reporters after her meeting with Carr on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Canada has become the latest country to announce the suspension of sanctions on Burma in response to a series of steps to restore democracy.

“Canada is encouraged by the changes that have taken place in Burma, especially in the last year,” Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird said in announcing the decision on Tuesday.

Noting that there is more work to be done, Baird said Canada stands ready to support Burma in building a free and prosperous society. “The easing of these sanctions will help Burma move in that direction and create jobs, hope and opportunity for the Burmese people,” he said.