US Welcomes Burmese Moves as Exiles Are Invited Home

Posted August 17th, 2011 at 11:10 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The United States says it is encouraged by recent steps in Burma but it will judge the new government by its actions, not its words.

Burmese President Thein Sein on Wednesday urged citizens who have fled abroad to come back to Burma and help rebuild the economy, saying his government is ready to forgive past differences.

The announcement follows two meetings between a government official and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and a recent political trip in which the Nobel laureate was permitted to speak to residents.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland welcomed those moves Wednesday and said the U.S. wants to see them continue. But, she said, America will judge the new Burmese government by the action it takes to open democratic space.

Khin Shwe, a prominent businessman and member of parliament, told VOA's Burmese service that Thein Sein made the appeal to the Burmese diaspora during a meeting with businessmen and private organizations earlier Wednesday.

Khin Shwe said Thein Sein used the meeting to describe the efforts his government has made since coming to office at the end of March. He said the president also told the group his government wants to work with its internal opponents for the best interests of the country.

He said the president recounted steps to rebuild the economy, the raising of pensions and salaries, and efforts to conduct peace talks with ethnic rebels in the country's north. Government forces and Kachin rebels have been fighting since early June, but efforts at peace talks have failed amid mutual distrust.

Thein Sein's government was elected by the new parliament chosen in November in the country's first elections in 20 years. Opposition parties complained the elections were unfair, and a party closely allied with the former military rulers won the vast majority of seats.