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Asean Affairs  16 November 2010

U.S. movement on Myanmar

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     16 November 2010

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The November 7 election in Myanmar was widely criticized in the West for not being open and fair and the victory of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) party, carrying 80 percent of the parliamentary seats was expected.

However, the subsequent event, the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, appears to have had an impact in diplomatic circles, especially in the United States.

In Washington, a U.S. State Department spokesman is perhaps signaling a new era of engagement with Myanmar’s junta. In a news report a State department spokesman practically admitted that the many sanctions imposed by the United States government have had little effect on the junta and the way it goes about its business. However, the sanctions may have had a greater effect on the people of Myanmar, the spokesperson conceded.

The U.S. is apparently opening the door to talks with the generals and this is a welcome change in the long-standing isolationist policy adopted by the U.S. government.

It’s too early in the game to predict or expect what changes may evolve in Myanmar and much will depend on how Suu Kyi is treated by the junta in her new found freedom, but the status quo has been altered just enough to encourage further diplomatic developments.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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