White House says Burma reforms give hope to N Korea

White House says Burma reforms give hope to N Korea

A senior US diplomat commended Burma at the 2015 address on US policy priorities for East Asia and the Pacific on 4 February, while discussing reforms in North Korea.

Speaking at the conference after his recent trip to the region, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Assistant Secretary Daniel R. Russel said, “One of the things that keeps me going is the example of Burma, Myanmar. There is a country that decided to make a change. There is a case in which a military dictatorship reinvented itself, opened itself, and the result of that shift has been the pouring in of significant development and economic support. President Obama has visited Burma twice. Imagine that. The president of Burma has visited the United States. The country is working up towards elections.”

After the April 2012 by-elections that saw Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy opposition party joining the political fold, Barack Obama’s historic visit to Rangoon later that year marked the strengthening of US-Burma ties, following the lifting of key economic sanctions.

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A further affirmation of US support for the government’s reforms was echoed by Obama’s recent visit to Naypyidaw in November 2014.

“Now, they – of course, Burma has many problems,” the US president said at the time. “But the transformation in the economy, the transformation in the lives of the Burmese people, the opportunities that have opened up and the scope of international cooperation and support for Burma has not come at the cost of a revolution. This is, as we see, a peaceful and iterative prospect.”

Burma, previously blacklisted for their arms alliance with North Korea, has taken what the White House in 2012 called“positive steps” to eliminate military collusion and sever ties with the totalitarian state.

Assistant Secretary Russel ended his statement on Wednesday: “Change in North Korea does not need to be regime change, as the example of Burma shows.”

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