US looks for better way to sway Burma: Clinton

Feb 19, 2009 (AFP)‚ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday US president Barack Obama’s administration is looking for a better way to bring change to military-ruled Burma and help the country’s people.

"We are conducting a review of our policy," Clinton told a Tokyo University student from Burma who asked whether there was an alternative to sanctions in order to promote economic and political freedom in the country.

"We are looking at what steps we could take that might influence the current Burmese government and we are also looking for ways that we could more effectively help the Burmese people," she said.

Clinton was speaking at a town-hall type meeting with students at Tokyo university.

Recalling a speech she gave to the Asia Society in New York last week, Clinton said: "We want to see a time when the citizens of Burma and the Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi live freely in their own country."

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy party, has spent most of the past 19 years under house arrest by the junta that has ruled the country since 1962.

"I’ve spoken with many people already who are strong supporters of the Burmese people who have said ‘let’s look to see if there’s a better way’, so we are doing that," the chief US diplomat said.

"And I hope we will be able to arrive at a policy that can be more effective."

A day after Obama took office a senior official in Rangoon said Burma hoped that the new president would change Washington’s tough policy towards its military regime and end the "misunderstandings" of the past.

Former US president George W. Bush’s administration strengthened decade-old sanctions against Burma while his wife Laura was an outspoken critic of the country’s ruling junta.

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