An Opportunity to Engage Burma

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi made her first overtly political trip outside of her home city of Rangoon since her release from house arrest nine months ago. “During her one-day trip to the northern towns of Bago and Thanatpin, Suu Kyi focused her public remarks on the theme of national unity,” says Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Vice President for Global Policy Programs. “She also called on people to support her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which the previous military government disbanded before last year’s elections. Her trip comes on the heels of two rounds of talks that brought her together with the new, nominally civilian government. These discussions and Suu Kyi’s freedom of movement are welcome developments, but it is still too early to conclude whether they represent a real thaw in relations. With Derek Mitchell -- the new American envoy to Burma -- now in place, the United States can and should be reaching out to Burmese authorities to encourage them to begin a new stage in government dialogue with the opposition. Moreover, as Burma awaits its turn to assume the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014, there is a real opportunity for ASEAN governments to use this leverage to press Naypyidaw to move in positive directions.”

Suzanne, who is based in New York, is Director of the Asia Society’s Task Force on U.S. Policy toward Burma/Myanmar. Read the Task Force Report and related materials. To arrange an interview, contact the Asia Society communications department at 212-327-9271 or