Posts Tagged ‘Yangon’

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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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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Interview With Kim Ghattas of BBC


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

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for talking to the BBC.


QUESTION: As usual, we’re very delighted to be here with you in Burma. It’s very special for the BBC to be in the country.

I wanted to start by asking you about your meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi. You’ve said that she is an inspiration to you. She has talked about the fact that she’s read your book. What was it like? What did it feel like when you finally came face to face?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Kim, it felt very familiar, and perhaps because I certainly have followed her over the years and have communicated with her directly and indirectly. So it was like seeing a friend you hadn’t seen for a very long time even though it was our first meeting. And it was also incredibly emotional and gratifying to see her free from the many years of house arrest and to see her once again leading her party and standing for elections in this new democratic process they are trying to put into place. So it was, for me, a great honor and a delight to spend time with her.

QUESTION: She sounded quite positive, cautiously so perhaps, but positive about the path towards reform that this country seems to be embarking on. Are you on the same page?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s important for those of us on the outside, whether we’re in government or in an NGO or a human rights activist, to appreciate how it looks from the inside. And certainly, her perspective is there are signs of change, that there is a rhetorical commitment to reform. I think it’s very wise of her to take advantage of that, to do everything she can to support it because, as in any transition, as this one could very well be, there are those who are pushing reform, and there are those who are dead set against it, and then there are probably the most people in the middle trying to gauge which way they should jump. So anything that can be done which legitimates the reformist tendencies should be, in her view, and I agree with this, validated and encouraged. But at the same time, you have to see continuing actions. It’s not enough just to give a speech or to do a few things. There has to be a momentum behind reform, and we’re waiting and watching for that.

QUESTION: You’re obviously coordinating quite closely with Aung San Suu Kyi in terms of America’s own engagement, reengagement with Burma. Do you run the risk that you’re basing your whole policy just on one person?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course we’re not. We are closely coordinating with her, but with many others. We’ve had high-level visits to Burma for nearly two and a half years, because when I became Secretary of State, I said we needed a Burma review, that I wasn’t satisfied with what our policy had produced, which was, frankly, not very much.

And in the course of the last two and a half years, we’ve had more than 20 high-level visits. And whether it’s our Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell or our Special Representative Derek Mitchell, they’ve met people across society – a lot of the representatives of the ethnic nationalities, a lot of civil society members, a lot of government members. So we’ve had a good sense of where people were.

So, yes, of course, it was critical that we closely coordinated with Aung San Suu Kyi, but she was not the only person we were working with. And uniformly led by her, we were encouraged to engage. And as she said publicly, she appreciated what the United States was doing, and we all hope that it can continue.

QUESTION: She said that she will run in the parliamentary by-elections that are coming in the next few months. Do you think that she runs the risks of being absorbed by the system? Is it perhaps better for her to continue leading the call for reform from the outside?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, that’s her decision, and I totally respect what she has decided. And I think from her perspective, it’s important to validate the political process. And the only way to do that is to ensure there is as much participation as possible. Her deciding to run sends a very important signal to others as well that this is worth doing. Because if all the people who have a deep, abiding commitment to democracy decided it was better to stay on the sidelines – because after all, getting involved in politics anywhere is a messy business, as I know from my own experience – then you would leave that to perhaps those whose commitment to reform and democracy are not as deep as they should be.

I think as a member – an elected member of parliament, she would have an important role to play, because she’s the one who has read deeply and thought deeply about how do you actually do this. And when I was meeting with members and leaders of the parliament, it was very clear they’re seeking advice. They wanted all kinds of ideas about how do you run an elected body. And so I think she is following through on what she believes to be her responsibility to the future.

QUESTION: Did you give her political advice about how to run?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, she, I think, is more than capable of doing that on her own, but we did discuss how challenging the political process can be.

QUESTION: Now, you had other meetings here in the country up in the capital in Nay Pyi Taw. You met with the country’s civilian president, Thein Sein. He’s a former junta leader. What were your impressions of him? Because you did come here to try to gauge his intentions. Is he really serious about reforming? What were your impressions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that certainly what I heard from him and what I heard from all of the leaders that I met with in Nay Pyi Taw was a stated commitment to continue the reform process. That’s obviously a first and important step, but it can’t end there; there has to be a series of actions that create a momentum toward democracy that cannot be reversed or undermined.

And I had the impression in speaking with all of the leaders that they’re well aware of the tensions within their own government about how far to go, how fast to go. That’s not unusual. But what I was reminded of is that we have experience in Latin America and in Asia, even in Africa, where military leaders transition into civilian leaders, and then create a democratic process which is left for those who come after them. That’s the hope that I think we all share.

QUESTION: Well, when you, let’s say, looked into his eyes, did you see a real intention for reform?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t speculate on matters like that. I judge people by their actions, and there have been some promising actions, but there needs to be a lot more.

QUESTION: Because indeed, as you said, there are those who are perhaps sitting on the fence, and you’re hoping that your visit will encourage the reformers, reinforce their hands, but also encourage others to join the camp of the reformers. That is the hope. The risk, of course, is that your visit might give legitimacy to a government that is desperately seeking it, and then when you leave, who knows what might happen on the ground. Are you worried about that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I think it certainly is important for the United States to be on the side of democratic reform, and when there is such an opening, as we see here, to demonstrate what the engagement might lead to on behalf of investment in the country and the like.

I was struck by how everyone I met with from civil society representing the ethnic nationalities were all so welcoming of engagement. I mean, people who – and it’s not just whom I met, but the stories and reports I’ve received from all of my team, people who had just gotten out of prison who said, “Thank you so much for engaging.” Well, how can we have less of a willingness to try to move this forward than the people inside the country who have suffered because of the repression? So I think it certainly is the right thing to do, but we’re not making any long-term commitment. This is a first date, not a marriage, and we’ll see where it leads.

QUESTION: So where are we going next? North Korea? Cuba?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I think that if they ever had a leader who did things like begin releasing political prisoners and – on a wide scale and set up a system for elections and the like, then we’d think about it. But right now, we’re focused on what we could see happening here.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for talking to the BBC.


QUESTION: Thank you.

Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR


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

QUESTION: I want to ask you first about just being at the house, Aung San Suu Kyi’s house, where she spent so much time under house arrest. How did it feel for you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, in one way, it was familiar to me because I had seen pictures of it over so many years, and friends of mine who have had a chance to visit with her have, of course, described the house. On the other hand, it was an overwhelming personal experience for me, because I’ve admired her for so long, and to see where she was unjustly imprisoned, where she had her unfortunate experience of really spending a lot of time alone, which was difficult, but also gave her the chance to think deeply about what she hoped to see for her country.

Last night at dinner, I was talking to her about my long conversation with Nelson Mandela and how he, looking back, had realized that all those very lonely days and nights in prison for him helped him really summon the strength that he – and of course, I feel the same way about her, that she sacrificed so much. And now, she has perhaps another chance to try to see the democracy that she’s believed in and struggled for and sacrificed for come to reality.

QUESTION: She’s now making this transition from democracy activist to politician, running for elections. Have you given her some advice on what politics is all about?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think she certainly understands that it’s a rough-and-tumble experience, no matter where one is. But we did talk about the difficulties of not only standing for election, but being elected and having to make compromises. And that would be true in any political process. Democracy really has to be constantly oiled by compromise, and a lot of people think that somehow is less than principled. But if you look at it from a historic perspective, people come into elective offices with many different experiences and ideologies, and you have to work together. She’s fully aware of all of that, but I think it will still be something quite new and challenging for her.

QUESTION: She’s really been guiding, in a way, this step-by-step U.S. rapprochement with Myanmar, and I wonder if you think – did she give you a sense that you guys have gone far enough or did she want you to do more, for instance, exchange ambassadors?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think she has been very helpful to us as we have designed our engagement, but continues to support the approach we’re taking, as she said publicly in her house today. And we’ve been very clear that we have to see further steps by the government in order to move again. And she has expressed her confidence in how we are proceeding. Obviously, we both want to see significant steps taken by the government, starting with the release of all political prisoners, before we are able to do any more.

But it’s also the testing of the sincerity and seriousness of the new leadership, which is important for her to know, because they are not releasing prisoners for us. They’re releasing it for their own internal decision-making, because they want to be on this path. So that’s helped her a lot about how they intend to proceed, which is on an important piece of information.

QUESTION: Now you’ve met Thein Sein, the president. She seemed to have confidence enough in him, but do you think he can deliver? I mean, he has a government that has a lot of people in that don’t like what he’s doing.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t speak for her. She is the one who has to make her own assessments. But we’re going to be watching. That’s – our measurement is what actually happens – not what is promised or not what is intended, but whether it’s delivered. And we discussed at some length, when I met with him at Nay Pyi Taw, what the next steps needed to be. And there are a lot of small steps that have to be taken that are of significance, but – releasing all of the prisoners, setting a date for the elections, and ensuring that they are free, fair, and credible, having a really comprehensive, well-designed effort to resolve the ethnic conflicts – those are three very big steps that we think have to be taken before we can further engage on a range of issues that we’d be willing to discuss.

QUESTION: I just have to ask you one question about Nay Pyi Taw. What were your impressions about this place? I mean, here in Rangoon, it’s a lively city, but up there, it’s just nobody there. Are you worried that they’re just too isolated from reality?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know about that. But it’s like a lot of these capital cities that get built in green space areas far from where they used to be. I’ve seen it in several countries around the world, and it always gives you a surreal impression, like is this a set; is it going to be here when I come back tomorrow? But they obviously invested a lot of money and effort in designing their government buildings. They’re looking to host a series of events of regional significance there over the next few years. So as for the business of the government, apparently it’s going to be done, but it’s not a bustling, lively city like Rangoon is, for sure.

QUESTION: So you think Aung San Suu Kyi will manage to live there or work there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think she is disciplined, determined, and they say that – nice meeting with me, (inaudible) when we get there.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your time.


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