Obama to meet Aung San Suu Kyi
President Barack Obama will meet with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House on Wednesday, NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable. The newly announced meeting will be the first between the two leaders and will come following a ceremony at the Capitol where Suu Kyi will be awarded the ...
President Barack Obama will meet with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House on Wednesday, NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable.
The newly announced meeting will be the first between the two leaders and will come following a ceremony at the Capitol where Suu Kyi will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to attend the ceremony. Clinton praised the ongoing democratic reform in Burma while stressing that more needs to be done there, in remarks alongside Suu Kyi on Tuesday at the United States Institute of Peace.
"It’s wonderful to see Suu Kyi back in Washington as a free and forceful leader of a country opening up to the world in ways that would have been difficult to imagine even recently. Those flickers of progress that President Obama spoke of last — a year ago — summer have been growing and strengthening in the time since," Clinton said.
She noted that hundreds of political prisoners have been released, opposition parties have been legalized, restrictions have been eased on freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, labor laws have been improved, and progress has been made on resolving the government’s conflicts with ethnic minorities. But all of those reforms are incomplete and require continued attention and vigilance by the international community, Clinton said.
"The government and the opposition need to continue to work together to unite the country, heal the wounds of the past and carry the reforms forward. That is also key to guard against backsliding, because there are forces that would take the country in the wrong direction if given the chance," said Clinton. "So we in the State Department and in the Obama administration are certainly the first to say that the process of reform must continue. Political prisoners remain in detention. Ongoing ethnic and sectarian violence continues to undermine progress toward national reconciliation, stability, and lasting peace. Some military contacts with North Korea persist. And further reforms are required to strengthen the rule of law, increase transparency, and address constitutional challenges."
In her own remarks, Suu Kyi traced the path of reform in Burma since 2010, saying that the United States and the international community have been cautious from the start, and rightly so.
"Burma had certainly started out on the process of democratization, but how far will it go? How sustainable is it? How genuine is it? Those are the questions," she said. "I think these questions have not yet been answered in their entirety, how genuine is the process, how sustainable it is. It will depend on all of us. First of all, it will depend on the people of Burma. The people of Burma, as represented by those in the legislature, will have a lot to do with it."
Suu Kyi said she supports the ongoing but gradual easing of sanctions against Burma and she called on the international community to aid her country as it emerges from decades of isolation.
"On my part, I do not think that we need to cling on to sanctions unnecessarily because I want our people to be responsible for their own destiny and not to depend too much on external props," she said. "We will need external help. We will need of help of our friends abroad from all over the world. But in the end we have to build our own democracy for ourselves. And we would like U.S.-Burma relations to be founded firmly on the recognition of the need for our own people to be accountable for their own destiny."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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