(NAYPYITAW, Myanmar) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for a historic visit -- the first by America’s top diplomat in half a century.
Her trip comes as the country’s military leadership has made unprecedented reforms in recent months to allow the long-suppressed opposition to participate in the political process.
Over the next two days, Clinton will meet with Myanmar’s leaders, including President Thein Sein, Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, and members of both houses of parliament. She will also meet with the main opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who until last year had been under house arrest for two decades.
Secretary Clinton is expected to bring with her specific proposals for reforms that the country’s leaders could implement. To entice them, Clinton will also put on the table certain incentives for action. Officials declined to say what those steps were before this week’s meetings.
A senior State Department official traveling with Clinton said the trip came together after months of planning and consultation with the country’s opposition leaders, in particular Aung San Suu Kyi. Two weeks ago, President Obama phoned her en route to the East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia to seek her final approval before announcing he would send Secretary Clinton to the reclusive southeast Asian country.
Critics of Clinton’s trip say it’s too big a reward too soon, since Myanmar’s leaders have yet to make deeper changes to allow for free and fair elections. The senior U.S. official, speaking on State Department-imposed terms of anonymity, brushed aside any criticism, saying that the Obama administration had consulted closely with Aung San Suu Kyi before sending Clinton.
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