On This Day

Myanmar Dictator’s First Visit to the US as State Leader

By Wei Yan Aung 11 September 2019

Yangon—Myanmar’s Revolutionary Council chairman and military dictator U Ne Win visited the US from Sept. 7 to 18 in 1966, four years after staging a coup. It was the fifth and last trip the dictator made to the US, after having last visited in 1950.

The US invited U Ne Win as a gesture of support for his efforts to maintain Myanmar’s non-alignment and independence, and as a reaffirmation of the country’s willingness to accept true neutrality as a Southeast Asian state.

Despite previous trips there, his September 1966 tour was U Ne Win’s first as a state leader. He was welcomed to the US on his first visit as a state leader there by US President Lyndon B. Johnson and UN Secretary General U Thant, who was also a Myanmar citizen.

According to an official statement, the US president expressed his understanding of Burma’s non-alignment policy, and both leaders affirmed their determination to strengthen friendly relations “in the mutual interest of their two peoples and in the service of the cause of peace and international understanding.”

President Johnson and U Ne Win held private talks on economic development and agricultural modernization in Myanmar during the visit.

U Ne Win and his wife, Daw Khin May Than, visited the White House, the UN headquarters and museums, among other places. The couple presented the US President and his wife with a teak coffee table, four chairs and a tea set.

Johnson and his wife presented a golf set to U Ne Win, who loved golf. The couple also gifted them a table clock, a gramophone and a music album for U Ne Win’s children left in Yangon.

At a press conference held after U Ne Win’s return to Myanmar, US officials, in response to questions from members of the press, said that no discussions were held regarding the arrest of Myanmar’s then-Prime Minister U Nu during the visit.

Four years prior, U Ne Win staged a coup; U Nu was still in detention from that coup in Yangon while U Ne Win was in the US.

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