US envoys to arrive in Burma tomorrow

Nov 2, 2009 (DVB), The most senior-level United States delegation to visit Burma in 14 years is due to arrive tomorrow and will likely meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a spokesperson for her party said.

Nyan Win, spokesperson for the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, said that the talks will focus on the 2008 constitution, which appears to guarantee a continuation of military rule in Burma.

"We will be raising issues on some important facts in that law. If things go well, we will continue with negotiations with both sides," he said, adding that Suu Kyi was likely to meet with the US envoys on Wednesday.

The US embassy in Rangoon said that the delegation also hopes to meet with senior government officials and representatives of ethnic groups.

The Washington delegation will be led by Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. He is the most senior-level US official to visit Burma since former secretary of state Madeleine Albright in 1995.

For more than a decade Washington has attempted to isolate the regime through disengagement and sanctions in the hope of pressuring it to improve its human rights record.

Renewed engagement has come after current secretary of state Hillary Clinton said in February that isolation has failed. The visit tomorrow will come amid what appears to be an aggressive crackdown by the Burmese government on opposition groups.

Last week it was reported that between 20 and 50 people have been arrested in recent weeks, the many of whom worked for the post-cyclone relief group, Lin Latt Kyae.

The US has prioritised the release of political prisoner as a goal for renewed engagement with the regime.

Renowned Burmese political analyst, Win Min, said however that the US will also be looking to challenge Burma's apparently warming relations with North Korea and possible nuclear links.

"They may also want to cooperate with Burma to reduce the amount of drugs being produced in the country," he said.

"There is a chance the US government will steadily ease sanctions on Burma if [the junta] compromises with issues such as the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Burma, and making the upcoming elections free and fair."

Reporting by Nay Htoo

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