Posts Tagged ‘Myanmar’

Earlier today, Secretary Clinton accompanied President Obama on an historic visit to Myanmar.  It was the first by an American President to that country.  Nearly a year ago, Secretary Clinton made the first visit there by a U.S. Secretary of State in more than 50 years. 

Here are some pictures from today.  They visited the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the President gave a speech at the University of Yangon.

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Remarks With Burmese President Thein Sein Before Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York City
September 26, 2012

PRESIDENT THEIN SEIN: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) ambassador to the United States (inaudible). I believe that our subsequent meetings have contributed a lot to the strengthening health of our bilateral relations between Myanmar and the United States. And on behalf of the people of Myanmar, we would like to extend our gratitude to Madam Secretary, who has opened a new chapter in our bilateral relations. The improvement of our bilateral relations, we can see that for instance, we now we have the – our diplomatic relations have been at the ambassadorial level.

And the people of Myanmar are very pleased that – on the news of easing of economic sanctions by the United States and we are grateful for the action by the United States. The democratic reform path that we have (inaudible). We still need to continue our path on democratic reforms, but with the recognition and the support from the champion of democracy like the United States, it has been an encouragement for us to continue our chosen path. And I would like to take this opportunity to express my cordial greeting to the President Obama and my best wishes for election campaign. I would personally like to (inaudible) to President Obama.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Mr. President, it’s wonderful to see you again, as you say, for our third meeting. I believe we have had productive discussions in Nay Pyi Taw and in Siem Reap, and I look forward to such a discussion here in New York. We have watched as you and your government have continued the steady process of reform, and we’ve been pleased to respond with specific steps that recognize the government’s efforts and encourage further reform.

And in recognition of the continued progress toward reform and in response to requests from both the government and the opposition, the United States is taking the next step in normalizing our commercial relationship. We will begin the process of easing restrictions on imports of Burmese goods into the United States. We hope this will provide more opportunities for your people to sell their goods into our market. As we do so, we will continue consulting with Congress and other relevant stakeholders about additional steps, while at the same time working with you and supporting those who are hoping that the reform will be permanent and progress will be continuing.

We recognize, Mr. President, that you are doing many things at once – political reform, moving toward a democratic change; economic reform, moving toward greater connection of your country with the global economy; working to end ethnic conflicts as you move toward peace and stability for your country.

So I look forward to our discussion today, Mr. President. Thank you.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is handed an envelope from Myanmar’s President Thein Sein as they meet in New York Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. Clinton said Wednesday the U.S. will ease its import ban on Myanmar that had been a key plank of remaining American economic sanctions. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

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Remarks at “The Lady” Film Screening


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Motion Picture Association of America
Washington, DC
April 9, 2012

Well, thank you all very much. And you are in for such a treat. This is a terrific movie, one that I had the great privilege of watching on my way to Burma.

And I particularly would like to thank the director for that honor, and also it’s wonderful to see Michelle here as well. So I am thrilled to look out and see so many people who care deeply about this issue. And I came in as Derek Mitchell and Melanne Verveer were finishing up their remarks.

But as Michael just said, movies have such a powerful voice in our culture, in every culture. And it is both exciting and profoundly moving that filmmakers use it to do more than just entertain, although entertainment is a very important part of the human experience. But the kind of educational and inspirational mission that Michael referred to is very important in today’s world, and this film portrays a woman whose story needs to be in theaters and living rooms across the world.

I want to thank Chris Dodd for sponsoring the showing here tonight. And I just really wanted to come by to underscore how important this moment in the history of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma happen to be. The personal side of Suu Kyi’s story that you will see tonight is one that is so moving when you look at what she gave up, the difficult decisions and sacrifices that she made for her country on behalf of freedom with the hope of democracy.

And it is certainly the case that whoever meets her knows how famous she is, how iconic she is. But what you come away with is how human, down-to-earth, personally engaged she happens to be in everything she’s doing, which makes her story even more painful. Because having met my share of famous people over a long period of time now, there are some who get so caught up in their cause and their mission that you do get the sense that, for them, the human relationships, the one-to-one personal connections with family and friends and colleagues have been totally subordinated to the larger mission. To a great extent, that is necessary, especially in the circumstances in which she found herself. But watching her interact with the people around her, the people who took care of her, the people who were there with her through all her years of house arrest and struggle, makes you know that this is someone who was very well aware of the pain and the sacrifice that she was undertaking.

Now, just a few days ago, we joined the world in celebrating her election. I did tell her in one of our recent telephone conversations she was moving from an icon to a politician. (Laughter.) Having made sort of the same journey to some extent, I know that that’s not easy because now you go to a parliament and you start compromising, which is what democracy is all about. It is not a dirty word. You cannot expect to have one person or one party – one leader – be the repository of everything that is true. And so you have to work with other people, some of whom you disagree with deeply. (Laughter.) But it is part of the commitment you make to a democratic process, even one as fragile as that being embraced by the leadership and the people of Burma.

As they grapple with transitioning from authoritarian military rule to a more open political and economic system, there are going to be a lot of difficult days ahead. President Thein Sein and his government have taken courageous steps. They’ve made this progress possible in many ways. They’ve helped to launch their country on this historic new path. But there is still a lot to be done.

I see Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, with whom I’ve worked closely on this whole process and project almost from the beginning of our time in the Obama Administration. And we will continue to press for all political prisoners to be released, for those already released to be given unconditional freedom. We will continue to work to end in a just way the ongoing ethnic conflicts.

We have told the government there that we will match action for action as they take steps. And last week, I outlined a number of the action steps the United States is prepared to take, including sending an accredited ambassador, reestablishing a USAID mission, enabling private organizations to engage in a broader range of non-profit activity supporting the people, beginning a targeted process of easing the ban on exporting U.S. financial services and restrictions on investment and travel.

It is something that we enter into with our eyes very wide open but with our hearts very hopeful. And certainly, we are guided by the partnership that we have with democrats, including most famously, Aung San Suu Kyi.

So tonight is an opportunity to celebrate this extraordinary woman’s struggle to bring democracy to her people. And we should also remember – and you’ll see some images in the movie of the many heroes in the pro-democracy movement who have sacrificed their freedom and even their very lives. There are hundreds and thousands of people working alongside Aung San Suu Kyi inside Burma and around the world, including in this room as I look at some of the faces who have been stalwart supporters and activists of behalf of a better, more democratic, peaceful future for the people of Burma.

So this film honors them as well. And after decades of war and turmoil, we do look with hope – realistic but nevertheless hopeful aspirations – for what can happen. So again, I want to thank Luc Besson and Michelle Yeoh and everyone associated with this film. And I personally want to thank you for going to so much effort to get it to me so that I could watch it as I was traveling to actually meet the real person. And it was a very moving experience for me, and I think it will be for all of you. So thank you very much. (Applause.)

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Recognizing and Supporting Burma’s Democratic Reforms


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 4, 2012

From the beginning of this Administration, we have pursued a policy of engagement to support human rights and reform in Burma. We knew that the challenges were great, but we also believed that a new approach was needed to support the aspirations of the people. And this week, the government and the people made further progress in advancing those aspirations.The results of the April 1st parliamentary by-elections represents a dramatic demonstration of popular will that brings a new generation of reformers into government. This is an important step in the country’s transformation, which in recent months has seen the unprecedented release of political prisoners, new legislation broadening the rights of political and civic association, and fledgling process in internal dialogue between the government and ethnic minority groups.

These elections and the progress that we have seen are precisely the kind of step that the President and I envisioned when we embarked on this historic opening. President Thein Sein and many of his colleagues inside the government helped launch their country on a historic new path. And while there is much to be done and significant tests lie ahead, we applaud the president and his colleagues for their leadership and courage, and we congratulate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for her election to the parliament as well as the election of many of her colleagues.

The United States is committed to taking steps alongside the Burmese Government and people as they move down the road of reform and development. In light of the by-election and the other progress of recent months, we are consulting actively with the Congress as well as our allies and friends in Europe and Asia on our response to these recent developments. We are prepared to take steps toward: first, seeking agrement for a fully accredited ambassador in Rangoon in the coming days, followed by a formal announcement of our nominee; second, establishing an in-country USAID mission and supporting a normal country program for the United Nations Development Program; third, enabling private organizations in the United States to pursue a broad range of nonprofit activities from democracy building to health and education; fourth, facilitating travel to the United States for select government officials and parliamentarians; and fifth, beginning the process of a targeted easing of our ban on the export of U.S. financial services and investment as part of a broader effort to help accelerate economic modernization and political reform. Sanctions and prohibitions will stay in place on individuals and institutions that remain on the wrong side of these historic reform efforts.

Now, this reform process has a long way to go. The future is neither clear nor certain. But we will continue to monitor developments closely and meet, as I said when I was there, action with action. We will continue to seek improvements in human rights, including the unconditional release of all remaining political prisoners and the lifting of conditions on all those who have been released. We will continue our support for the development of a vibrant civil society, which we think will greatly add to the reform of the economy and society. We will continue to urge progress in national reconciliation, specifically with ethnic minority groups. And we will continue to press for the verifiable termination of the military relationship with North Korea.

Yet even as we urge these further steps, we fully recognize and embrace the progress that has taken place, and we will continue our policy of engagement that has encouraged these efforts. The leadership has shown real understanding and commitment to the future of their country. That development, we hope, will be sustainable and produce even more results.

As we have done over the last several months, the United States will stand with the reformers and the democrats, both inside the government and in the larger civil society, as they work together for that more hopeful future that is the right of every single person.

Thank you all very much.

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These pictures are from the State Department and show some events we have not seen previously.  We see Mme. Secretary meeting with ethnic minorities, civil society leaders, and the Burmese press as well as some new images from her meetings with President Thein Sein and members of parliament.  The government pictures were taken at the new capital Nay Pyi Taw.  She then boarded her plane and flew to the old capital, Rangoon (now named Yangon) to visit the golden pagoda and meet Aung San Suu Kyi and the civil and ethnic groups.

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Interview With Jill Dougherty of CNN


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Rangoon, Burma
December 2, 2011

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for taking time out. This is a busy trip, historic, really. I wanted to start with Aung San Suu Kyi. It must – I would like to know what it was like to see her face to face. There was obviously a lot of chemistry between you. But I also wanted to ask: Right now, is American policy too focused on her? Dare I say does she have a veto on U.S. policy toward Myanmar?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, let me start by saying that it was just an extraordinary personal privilege for me finally to meet her. I felt like I had known her for years because of all of the information that I had about her and the interactions that friends of mine had with her who carried messages back and forth, and I just really felt like it was meeting an old friend, even though it was our first time. And I deeply admire and appreciate everything that she’s done over the years to stand steadfastly for democracy and freedom and to be someone who people in her country look up to and know that she has their best interests at heart, and they want to follow her because of that.

She is someone who we talk to and rely on about policy advice, and certainly we were very gratified that she encouraged us to engage, encouraged my trip, as she said publicly today, thought that we were proceeding appropriately, cautiously to determine whether or not these reforms were for real.

But she’s not the only person we talk to. For the past two and a half years, ever since I asked that we do a review of our Burma policy, because I didn’t think we were making the kind of progress we all had hoped to for the people here, we’ve had about 20 or more high-level visits from our assistant secretary, our special representative and others. They have fanned out across the country meeting with all kinds of people. Our Embassy here has been deeply consulting with people.

So of course we highly respect the opinions of Aung San Suu Kyi, for all the obvious reasons, but this was a consensus that developed that there was a great desire to encourage this reform and to validate the reformers so that they would feel acknowledged in the outside world and, frankly, encouraged to go even further.

QUESTION: You’ve talked a lot about political reform, but then you have, of course, mentioned economic reform. And one of the key issues there is that the military controls a lot of the economy. Are you convinced that this government is sincere in wanting to really restructure, reform, invite investment from the outside, which could threaten the military?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can only report on what they asked me. They asked that I personally follow through on a request for the World Bank to send an assessment team, that we try to offer technical advice about how they can and should reform their economy. There are a lot of vested interests. You always find that when you move from an authoritarian regime to a more open one. But we’ve seen it work elsewhere. There does have to be a lot of changes in the economy here. They need exchange rate reform. There’s all kinds of basic questions they have to answer. So again, we’re at the very beginning. Where we’ll be in one year, five years, or ten, I can’t sit here and predict. But there was a great desire on the part of the leadership in Nay Pyi Taw to have assistance in reforming the economy, and we will encourage that.

QUESTION: And I know we don’t have a lot of time, but just very briefly, North Korea, big issue here. What is your understanding in brief about what Myanmar was/is doing with North Korea in terms of nuclear or missile technology?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there has been a military-to-military relationship in the past around missile technology in particular. But we’ve been pressing very hard on that, and we had a receptive audience yesterday in talking about the need to end that relationship if the country expects, under this current government, to have any deeper engagement with us, politically or economically, or with South Korea, which has a great deal to offer in terms of development assistance and the like. So we’ve made it clear that it would be difficult for us to pursue our engagement unless that relationship was once and for all ended.

QUESTION: And one question on Iran. Right now there’s a lot of extreme behavior by Iran. We’ve had the Saudi Arabia plot; we had the attack on the British Embassy; there are other reports about Germany against U.S. interests still being investigated. What is going on? I mean, is Iran and the leadership becoming unhinged, or is this some deliberate policy of destabilization?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Jill, we have observed the leadership in Iran engaged in a very serious power struggle between the supreme leader and those around him, the presidency and those around it. So we think there’s a lot of jockeying going on. We believe that the military, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, particularly the so-called Qods Force, is gaining in authority, and that’s a dangerous signal, because they seem to be quite reckless. There’s a long history of provocative actions stretching from Saudi Arabia to Argentina that they have precipitated. And it goes with our constant warning to the international community that we’re dealing with a dangerous regime, one that is unpredictable, that seems to be almost irrational from time to time as to the actions they’re taking.

I mean, what did it do for them to unleash mobs against the British Embassy, other than harden the resolve of so many people against them? Their plot against the Saudi Ambassador to the United States seems unbelievably reckless. So it is a sign of desperation, whether it’s because of their internal power struggles, their personality conflicts, the fact that we know the sanctions are really having an impact on them. I can’t predict all of the reasons or the directions that it will go, but it underscores the policy that we’ve been following in the face of their refusal to change their behavior.

QUESTION: But it doesn’t seem to be leading to anything. It’s not stopping their program.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we think that the sanctions have had a quite serious effect on them. Now, we know that there’s more to be done, which is why Secretary Geithner and I announced more sanctions about a week ago, and you just saw the European Union adopt more sanctions. So the vice is getting tighter.

QUESTION: Well, thank you very much, Madam Secretary.


Interview With Wyatt Andrews of CBS


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Rangoon, Burma
December 2, 2011


QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thanks for your time this afternoon.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Wyatt.

QUESTION: You have said several times you’ve come here to test the Burmese leadership on whether they’re serious about reform. So the question is: Did they pass the test?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s incomplete at this moment, because we saw some positive changes, we’ve heard some encouraging commitments, but there’s still so much to be done, starting with the unconditional complete release of all the political prisoners, that were are still in an engaging mode. We want to follow closely what they actually do, and as I’ve said, when they start to take actions that further the momentum for reform and democratization, we will, too.

QUESTION: When you were sitting in these meetings with them, though, did you have the sense that they meant it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: You know what? I’m going to judge their actions. They certainly said a lot of the right things that we found promising. But we also are aware, as with any of these transitions, there will be those who want to hurry reform, and there will be those who want to stymie it, and then there will be a lot of people in the middle who will be kind of fence-sitting until they see how it turns out.

And one of the reasons for my coming was to send a very clear signal that the United States would welcome this reform process, deepening, continuing, and taking on the hard issues – the political prisoners, the elections, their free, fair, credible nature, the difficult work of trying to end these conflicts in ethnic areas that have gone on for 60 years in some cases, but without which being resolved, the country cannot be unified, cannot be secure and at peace, and there will always be then an excuse for the military to have to assert itself on security grounds.

So there are some very promising steps, and it wasn’t for me to jump to any conclusions based on this one trip, but to come away having delivered a set of clear messages, having heard what I did, and then being in a position back in Washington to continue supporting the reformers.

QUESTION: You are dealing, though, with a military, an entrenched military establishment here. They’re intertwined still in the government, they’re intertwined in big business, industry, every aspect of society. Is it even possible that an entrenched military like this would give up power, support free elections? Is that possible?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It is possible, and it’s happened in other places in this region. We have the history in Korea, where over the years after the Korean War it was a rocky road to democracy and prosperity, and there were a lot of bumps and detours on the way with coups and assassinations and military authoritarianism, but they stayed with it. In Indonesia we have a democracy run by a former general who took off the uniform that is now 11, 12 years old, but looks like it’s really settling in and sustainable. We have examples from Latin America, from Africa, and elsewhere.

So we know it can be done. It’s a question of whether the leadership and the rank and file will accept that there is an important, essential role in any society for a military under civilian rule. And if that can be inculcated by some of the civilian leadership that were formally leaders of the military, then there’s a fighting chance that the attitudes will change and the appropriate delegation of responsibility between a military within a democracy and the democratic leadership can begin to take hold.

QUESTION: When you were in the capital the other day, I’ll bet you asked yourself this question. And the question is: Why is this happening, and why is it happening now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. I’ve talked to a lot of experts, both inside the country and outside, and there are a number of explanations. There was a growing sense among the military leaders and some of their allies in the private sector that Burma was increasingly isolated. They looked around and watched the rising standard of living in East Asia and Southeast Asia in particular. They’re a member of ASEAN. They see the progress that is being made in their neighboring countries, and they started to say, “Well, what’s happening to us? Why aren’t we also progressing?”

And they, I think, concluded that they might miss out on the economic prosperity and the growth that is possible, and having seen that because they were traveling – there was an increase in the opportunities for a lot of the military leaders to get out and see what was happening elsewhere – they said, “Well, what are the ingredients as to what we need to do?” And I know that the Indonesians, because I have talked to President Yudhoyono about this, had reached out to the military leadership and talked about the transition from military to civilian government. So I think there are a lot of trends, sort of economic, strategic trends, and personal experiences that together has created the impetus for these changes.

QUESTION: Tell me a little bit about Aung San Suu Kyi, your impressions of her. And do you think this would be happening without her?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I doubt that very much. I mean, I can’t look back on history and say, “What if? What if?” But her steadfastness, her determination, her dignity in representing a better future, a democratic future for the people of this country, has inspired so many of her fellow citizens. And the fact that she has been generous in sharing her thoughts and her hopes on an ongoing basis with several generations now of her fellow citizens has created a broad-based expectation. I met with a number of civil society activists, democracy activists, human rights activists, ethnic minority representatives, and the vast majority mentioned what she meant to them.

QUESTION: Did her 20 years of resistance to this regime lead to this moment?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it contributed to it. I have no doubt about that. I think it was one of a number of important factors. But what is so remarkable about her witness, because really that’s what it was over all those years, is that no matter how oppressive the regime became, no matter how violent, she continued to embody that quiet, peaceful strength that says to any authoritarian or dictator, “I’m still here. I’m still as committed as I ever was, because what I’m standing for is more eternal than what you are standing for.” And that’s a powerful message, particularly in this society.

QUESTION: There are a lot of people back home who say you should not be here, that by being here you’re rewarding a horrible regime that hasn’t really proven itself on the world stage.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course I know there are those who are skeptical. So am I. I want to be shown what they’re going to do. But it was remarkable to me, Wyatt, how everyone that I met with in the opposition inside society, starting with Aung San Suu Kyi, thanked me for coming, expressed great appreciation for America’s engagement. They think is exactly the right time for me to be here, for me to be saying what I’m saying both privately and publicly.

And with all due respect, I think the people who have been imprisoned, who have watched their loved ones and their colleagues be beaten or even killed, who have suffered so much are better judges about what’s possible than any of us who are so far away, who are certainly hoping for a good outcome but have no stake in it. And therefore, I’m going to be guided by the advice I received from Aung San Suu Kyi and others. And as she said publicly today, we have closely coordinated with her every step that we have taken, and she has been fully supportive.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you.



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Some footage of her meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi at her home as well as a short interview here.

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Interview With Kristen Welker of NBC


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Rangoon, Burma
December 2, 2011

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for doing this interview.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Happy to talk to you.

QUESTION: Thank you. What do you think is the most significant development that came out of your meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it was an important meeting for both substantive and symbolic reasons. Obviously, I was thrilled to finally meet her. She felt like an old friend that I was seeing again after some long absence. But it was personally incredibly important to me, but it was also substantively important, because we have worked with her closely over the last months to make sure that we understood what she thought was happening inside the country, that our policy was aligned with that, along with many other people inside with whom we’ve had constant interactions over the past two-plus years. So it was gratifying that she fully endorsed our engagement efforts and that she wants American support for the reformers. She thinks that’s an important message to send. So that was a critical conclusion that came from both my private discussions and then her public comments.

QUESTION: What do you think she means to the people here in this country and to United States efforts to try to help bring about reform here?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that she’s so deeply admired and loved here that people who care about the future, who know that Burma could be so much more, it could place – it could take its place in the world in the 21st century instead of being left behind, as it has been for the last years. I think she is so admired because of her steadfast dignity and determination and the fact that she stands on her own for democracy, for freedom and justice. And then because of the connection with her father, who was the liberator, who achieved independence for Burma, there’s a sense of continuity and what might have been and what still could be. So in so many ways, when I talk with people who are in the opposition, of course, in her party and elsewhere, in civil society, the ethnic nationalities, her name comes up all the time because people see her as their leader on behalf of a better Burma.

QUESTION: President Obama has recently said that his foreign policy focus is shifting away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to the Asia Pacific region. How much of this trip is also aimed at sending a message to China that the United States can serve as a counterweight in this region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: This trip is not about anything other than the potential for American engagement to support the reformers inside of the country. And we have no concerns about Burma having good relations with China. They share a long border; it’s a big neighbor that you have to figure out how to get along with. That is not anything that we have an interest in or an objection to.

I think what President Obama was saying is that, given our history, we have been a Pacific power, a resident power. We liberated the Pacific. We worked to help the South Koreans withstand the brutal assault from the North. We have been in this region. But certainly over the last 10 years, because of our preoccupations with Iraq, with Afghanistan, there were doubts in the region that maybe we were no longer going to be paying attention, that we weren’t going to play the role that historically we have played. And it was important for us to clearly, unequivocally, state we are and we will be, far, far into the future, a Pacific power.

QUESTION: Do you worry that if the officials here, if the government here doesn’t start to enact the type of reforms that they have said they will, this will ultimately become a foreign policy blemish, this trip?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don’t, because, first of all, we have followed the lead of the people that are at the forefront of the struggle for democracy here. And I don’t see how we could have said, “Well, you’re on your own. Yes, we hear you, but we’re not responding.” That’s not a way a responsible nation such as ours acts. And ultimately, it is not the Americans’ decision. It is the decision of the leadership of this current government. The test is really theirs, and we’re going to do everything we can to encourage them to make the right decisions, but ultimately they have to bear the praise or the condemnation. And our goal is to assist those who are trying to be reformers within the government and those on the outside who have so long believed in a democratic future.

QUESTION: I just want to do a quick international wraparound. Pakistan – what is your concern right now in terms of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan given what happened there? Are you concerned that it will further harm a very complicated relationship already?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a terrible, tragic incident that we deeply regret and have communicated that to every level of the Government in Pakistan. The fact is we have some similar interests in making sure that extremism is pushed back, that the threats to Pakistanis, the threats across the border in Afghanistan, the threats to our troops, and even the threats beyond the borders, because of the safe havens for extremists, are dealt with. And I don’t think that changes because we have a problem arising from what everyone admits was a deeply tragic incident.

QUESTION: And just quickly, two more quick questions. Iran – you condemned what happened there. Is the United States thinking about taking any punitive measures against Iran at this point?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ve announced additional sanctions, as the EU has as well. And we’re going to continue to keep as much of an international coalition to condemn Iran and sanction Iran as we can. Because remember, if it’s just the United States and Europe, that is not sufficient. What was very significant about what we achieved early in the Administration was to get China and Russia to sign on to sanctions. China is very reliant on Iranian gas and oil. I think we are going to do everything possible to tighten the screws on the Iranian regime, because their provocative actions – whether it’s attacking the Embassy of the United Kingdom or trying to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador – are deeply troubling to us.

QUESTION: Finally, as we cap off this historic week, I wonder if you could reflect a bit on your own unique path. As you look back at everything that you have done, what do you think at this point is your greatest achievement?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I don’t think like that. I have to confess I live – I try to live in the moment because there is so much that is going on every second. And this trip here to test the democratic movement and see whether it’s real or not is such a great privilege for me to represent my country and to try to do what we possibly can to make this reform real. We’re just going to get up every day and go to bat and try to advance America’s interests and values, and sometimes we get on base, sometimes we even hit a home run, sometimes we strike out. (Laughter.) So it’s a kind of daily challenge that I’m just trying to manage, and maybe when I’m finished with the job, I’ll look back and be able to answer your question.

QUESTION: I think I’m getting (inaudible).


QUESTION: Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Great to talk to you.

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Mme. Secretary’s day in Burma was a flurry of activity.  Long awaited, her meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi took place at the residence of the U.S. Chief of Mission in Yangon.    She also toured the centuries-old Shwedagon Pagoda there where she poured water on a statue of Buddha, a ritual meant to make one feel good,  placed flowers before another statue of Buddha,  and  rang an enormous bell for good luck.  In the capital, Nay Pyi Taw,  she met President Thein Sein and his wife Khin Khin Win as well as members of parliament, one of whom appears to have bowed to her quite deeply!

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This is probably news to no one here by now, but here it is for the record from the Foreign Policy report.

Clinton to visit Burma next month

Top news: Hillary Clinton will visit Burma next month, the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State in more than 50 years. The announcement by President Barack Obama followed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi announcement that she would run for parliament in this year’s elections.

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The State Department did not oublish the text of this speech.  There was a background briefing, however.


Background Briefing on Burma

Special Briefing

Senior State Department Official
Via Teleconference
New York, NY
September 23, 2009

OPERATOR: Welcome, and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. During the question and answer session, please *1 on your touchtone phone. Today’s conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.
Now, I will turn the call over to Mr. Crowley. He may begin.
Date: 09/23/2009 Description: Secretary Clinton attends the Friends of Burma Ministerial, at the United Nations Headquarters.  © State Dept Image by Michael GrossMR. CROWLEY: Good evening, P.J. Crowley from the State Department here. Thanks for joining in. As you know, we’ve been reviewing our Burma policy for several months. This evening, Secretary Clinton provided an intervention at the UN, at the Friends of Burma meeting. Afterwards, I would call your attention to some comments that she made in the stakeout area. And here, to provide some additional perspective for what she announced, we have a Senior State Department Official who will conduct kind of a background briefing. We also tonight will – we hope – we expect to release the full text of the Secretary’s intervention, which will explain a lot of things in detail, and I expect we’ll have an on-the-record briefing, probably tomorrow in Washington, to lay out our new policy approach.
But here to provide some perspective for what you’ve heard today, I’ll turn it over to the Senior State Department Official.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Hello. Thanks, P.J. I’ll just start off maybe with a few minutes of comments and then be happy to take your questions.
You all know that the Secretary announced in February in Jakarta that we would begin this policy review. And I think it’s really important to remember what she said at that point, which is that we have a strong interest in Burma and that our goals were to see a democratic and peaceful and prosperous Burma, and that the purpose of the policy review was not really to look at those goals, which remain constant, but rather, to see if there was a more effective way of achieving those goals.
And she said at that time, as you’ll recall, that neither a sanctions-based policy or ASEAN’s approach of engagement had worked, and so it was appropriate to look at some new ideas and see if we could come up with a better way. And the policy review has been going on, as you know. There was some slowdown in the process because when the Burmese arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and put her on trial, it went on for quite a while. It seemed to us we wanted to await the outcome of that before coming to our conclusions. And we’re now at that point of coming to the conclusions, and as P.J. said, we’ll be rolling them out in the next day or two.
The Secretary provided an intervention today, as he said, that did not go into details, but that highlighted the main conclusions. The points I would emphasize – again, I’ve already said it, but it’s so important, I want to emphasize it – again, that the goals of our Burma policy remain the same – a democratic, peaceful, prosperous Burma that respects the rights of its people. And that toward that end, we will continue to push and work toward release of political prisoners, a genuine dialogue between the government and the opposition and the ethnic minority parties that allows the people of Burma to shape their own democratic future.
And toward that end, we will be using a mix of policy tools. Sanctions remain important, as the Secretary said today, an important tool. By themselves, they have not produced the results we would like, but that does not mean they don’t have value. And also dialogue, as well as continuing things that help the people of Burma – humanitarian assistance, those sorts of things. So going forward, we can expect to use a mix of tools.
And I have to stress we’re going into this with eyes wide open. We’re not expecting dramatic, immediate results. This is a problem in Burma. I mean, the military’s been in power since 1962. We have been working hard at this for many, many years. It’s not an easy situation to resolve, and it’s unlikely that there’s going to be dramatic change soon. But we think that going forward with a more nuanced approach that focuses on trying to achieve results and that’s based on pragmatism, it increases the chances of success over time.
Well, I think I’ll stop there and take your questions.
OPERATOR: Thank you. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. If you would like to ask a question, please press *1. Please unmute your phone and record your name clearly when prompted. Your name is required to introduce your question. To withdraw your request, press *2. Once again, as a reminder, if you’d like to ask a question, press *1. One moment while we wait for the first question.
Our first question comes from Mr. Dave McCombs. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Hello. Yes, I’d like to ask whether this policy review is based on any regional changes, any change in the view of Burma’s relations with other countries in the region and whether or not any changes would be unilateral?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That’s a good question. I’d say two things. One, throughout this process of the policy review, we’ve been in close consultation not only with people in the United States that follow Burma, but also with the countries in the region, as well as others who are interested in Burma.
I wouldn’t say that the review or the results of the review are necessarily based on any change in Burma’s relations with other countries. The one thing I would note is that we have heard from the Burmese, fairly clearly over the last several months, for the first time – at least for the first time in many years – an interest in engaging with us and improving relations with us. And so it seems to us useful to see if we can use that interest to advance our goals.
OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Mr. John Pomfret. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Thank you. I’m wondering whether you plan any meetings with senior Burmese officials on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, or, for that matter, soon, whether here or in Burma?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: At this point, we’re still looking at that. We’re putting, as I said, the finishing touches and we’ll be coming out in – with more details in the next few days. And what I would say is that we will certainly let you know if we do have such a meeting.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Oh, if I can just add on that, there was one report that Kurt Campbell would be seeing the prime minister of Burma. That, I can tell you, is not the case, but I won’t say anything more at this point.
OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Mr. Matthew Lee. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Yeah. I’m wondering if you could just – I mean, thank you for this. And what you said is interesting, but it – essentially, it doesn’t really flesh out so far, at least, what the Secretary said. Can you explain exactly how you’re going to be engaging with the Burmese leadership?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think, again, we’ll be coming out in the next – probably tomorrow or the next day —
QUESTION: Right, but she —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: — and saying on the record with more detail —
QUESTION: Right. But you’re on background now.
QUESTION: I was hoping —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think, basically, we’ll be talking to them. And I would emphasize that we talked to the Burmese already. So —
QUESTION: So how is this – so can I ask, then, how is this any different? I mean, yes, you have an embassy with a chargé there.
QUESTION: They have an embassy with at least a chargé, and probably an ambassador in Washington. So if you’re already talking to them, what is the significance of the Secretary saying, on the record, that you’re going to be engaging directly with the Burmese authorities? How is that going to take place?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, we will be coming out with more details on that. We don’t —
QUESTION: Has it not been decided yet? I’m not – I guess I’m not understanding – if you’re on background and you’re talking about, yes, you’re going to go and announce something on the record, why can’t you flesh out what the Secretary said to us already on the record?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay. We expect the Burmese will be designating someone who would be an interlocutor for us. And so we have to just kind of take it one step at a time.
QUESTION: Okay. And would you expect to reciprocate?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, we will certainly have someone who would be available to talk. But we’re – I don’t know that we’re going to designate, officially, an interlocutor.
QUESTION: Well, because that job is – the job exists already, but —
QUESTION: — it’s been unfilled.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, certainly, separately, we do – under the law, of course we are obligated and expect to name the special envoy for Burma. And that process is underway, but a person hasn’t been named, as you know.
QUESTION: Okay. So what you’re talking about is something separate from the special envoy post that what’s-his-name was going to take, but then – that was appointed in the last few days of the Bush (inaudible).
QUESTION: So this – so you’re talking about they’re going to designate someone who will talk to you, and you’re going to designate someone who will be available to talk to them, but that person is not necessarily going to – or is not going to be the special envoy who’s obligated by – that you’re obligated to have by law?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. Well, I would say it this way. At this point, we don’t have a special envoy named, so obviously that person can’t be – isn’t available to start talking. I would say when that person is named, I’m sure we will look at whether that person is the right person to talk to the Burmese.
QUESTION: Okay. And lastly —
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: But since we don’t have someone now, it’s not really an option.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, do you – is that something that you expect to be announcing tomorrow, or is that something that’s further —
QUESTION: Okay. All right. Thank you very much.
OPERATOR: Again, as a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press *1. Our next question or comment comes from Mr. Arshad Mohammed. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Hi, two things. Can you, at a minimum, at least, tell us that the engagement that you plan to have going forward will be at a higher level than the engagement that you’ve had in the past?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Sorry, that noise was – I think I understood you – the question was whether the engagement would be at a higher level?
QUESTION: Than it has been in recent years. And secondly, can you give us – you know, the Secretary said that the sanctions are important. Can you tell us that – whether or not you have any intentions of removing any of the current sanctions or of adding any additional sanctions?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right. Sorry, there was a lot of feedback on the line. Yeah, I think the engagement will be at a higher level and – than it has been. And I think on terms of sanctions, the Secretary said sanctions are a useful tool, but by themselves are not sufficient. I think we’ve been clear for – even in the past, that the sanctions are in place to try to achieve a goal. And certainly, if we – if Burma made progress toward addressing our concerns on the core political issues, certainly I think we would look at sanctions. But at this point, they haven’t made any such progress.
QUESTION: So is it fair to say that then, at this point, you have no intention of removing any of the current sanctions?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I would put it this way. If we made any – were to make any adjustments going forward, it would be based on tangible progress by Burma.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Got it. So they move first, not you.
OPERATOR: Again, as a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press *1. One moment while we wait for any incoming questions. I am showing no further questions at this time.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay. Thank you. Thank you very much.
OPERATOR: Thank you. This concludes today’s conference. Thank you for your participation. You may disconnect at this time.

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