The speaker of Burma’s Union Parliament Shwe Mann is set to address a crowd at the Washington DC-based think tank the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Friday.
His visit to the US capital will also take in meetings with members of congress and an appointment with Deputy-Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, according to the US State Department.
The Burmese presidential contender left for the US capital on Wednesday at the invitation of the US House of Representatives John Boehner on what Burmese state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar described as a “goodwill” visit.
Shwe Mann, who before becoming chairperson on the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party was a leading general in Burma’s military, previously visited Washington in June 2013 when he expressed interest in a presidential run.
His visit comes just days after the US announced it had dropped sanctions on businessman Win Aung of Dagon International and Dagon Timber. Win Aung was accused of corruption after his firms received large contracts while he was head of Burma’s top commerce body. The US Treasury gave no reason for the surprise removal of the tycoon from the blacklist.
Shwe Mann’s trip also follows the disclosure of a new deal signed between Naypyidaw and the influential Washington lobbying firm the Podesta Group, who have strong ties to the Democratic Party and US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton.
Of the deal with Podesta, who identify themselves as specialists in “ally recruitment”, “influencer engagement” and “reputation management/ positioning”, Simon Billenness of the US Campaign for Burma, said: “The fact that the regime has hired the Podesta Group further demonstrates that the regime is trying to improve its relations with the US through expensive lobbying instead of simply honouring its pledges to hold free and fair elections and end its abuses of human rights.”