Senior US Diplomat Speaks With Myanmar’s Shadow Government

By The Irrawaddy 5 August 2021

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke on Wednesday with a representative of Myanmar’s government in exile, the first announced contact between a senior US official and the rival administration to the generals who overthrew the country’s democratically elected government.

The US State Department said Sherman spoke with Daw Zin Mar Aung, who has been appointed acting foreign minister in the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) for Myanmar, also known as Burma. Zin Mar Aung is an elected MP of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and a former political prisoner.

“They discussed ongoing efforts to return Burma to a path to democracy, including continued US support for the pro-democracy movement,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The NUG is composed of members of the elected government (now ousted) and other activists and ethnic leaders. It was founded in April, three months after the coup.

Myanmar now faces a humanitarian crisis and third wave of deadly coronavirus infections and the economy has collapsed.

The State Department also said in its press release, “In addition, they discussed efforts to combat rising COVID-19 infections in Burma and to provide critical humanitarian assistance to the people of Burma.”

The US has imposed sanctions on the military and some of its business interests.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met virtually with counterparts from ASEAN and called on them to take joint action to urge the military to end its violence, the State Department said.

Blinken welcomed the bloc’s appointment of Brunei’s second minister for foreign affairs, Erywan Yusof, as special envoy to Myanmar.

The secretary of state urged ASEAN foreign ministers to push for Myanmar to “release all those unjustly detained, and restore Burma’s path to democracy,” the earlier statement said.

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