U.S. Envoy Meets with Suu Kyi in Burma

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell arrived in Burma yesterday -- his second visit to the country since the Obama administration adopted a new policy that engages Burma’s military leaders in high-level dialogue. He met with detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her colleagues from the National League for Democracy (NLD), which was recently forced to disband, as well as senior government officials and representatives from junta-backed parties. “Campbell used the visit to convey to Burmese officials that the United States is very concerned about the direction they are taking with their upcoming elections, which are already seen as lacking any credibility,” says Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Director of Policy Studies. “This message was reinforced by a resolution recently passed by the U.S. Senate, calling for the Obama administration to review its seven-month-old policy toward Burma, while noting that it has not yet yielded any positive moves by the country’s ruling generals. The combination of direct dialogue with pressure is the right approach, but expectations should be kept in check. After decades of pursuing policies to isolate Burma, it will take both time and effort before this shift bears any fruit. For now, the U.S. needs to continue to engage with military leaders, as well with a wide range of groups inside Burma, to position itself to respond effectively and flexibly to the twists and turns that a potential transition may take. At the same time, the U.S. should ramp up coordination on its Burma policy with other key stakeholders, particularly ASEAN, the U.N. and Burma's neighbors, including China, India and Japan.”

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