Former army official sent to US on diplomatic duty

Mar 16, 2009 (DVB), The State Peace and Development Council is sending former army officer-cum-diplomat to the United States to lobby related powers, said former military intelligence officer Aung Lin Htut.

SPDC chairman General Than Shwe’s close aide Colonel Than Swe (now U Than Swe) was appointed ambassador to the UN on 11 March.

Fifty year old Than Swe was a graduate of Defense Services Academy (Batch 16), and was notorious for human rights abuses while in charge of military offensives in Karen State.

Violations by the Burmese military in Karen state are reported to have included the burning of villages and rape of women.

Than Swe is also the right-hand man of regional commander General Myint Aung, who ordered the shooting of Aung San Suu Kyi during a public rally.

He has little diplomatic experience, although he was temporarily in charge of the Burmese embassy in Washington as ambassador, said Aung Lin Htut.

"After serving as the strategist, Ko Than Swe was appointed the chief director of ethnic national development projects," he said.

Former ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe was replaced with Than Swe in June last year after negotiating the entry of foreign warships into Burma to help victims.

"After Nargis struck, former ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe offended higher echelons of army generals," said Aung Lin Htut.

"When it comes to [Burmese embassy staff in] New York, the generals don't trust them."

The SPDC has been working hard, with the help of China, to change US policy on Burma since Barrack Obama was elected US president last year, Aung Lin Htut said.

"I heard that [the generals] officially requested the current Chinese Foreign Minister to plead with President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to improve relations with the Burmese government.

"The reason is that, in 2008, Burmese ministers and American officials were allowed to meet in China," he said. "They are proposing to hold a similar meeting, I heard."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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