US-Burma Talks Set for New York Next Week

Posted September 15th, 2011 at 1:15 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. officials say they will try to assess Burma's commitment to real reform during talks with Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin next week in New York.

An aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton briefed reporters Wednesday on the planned meeting, to be held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell is expected to represent the United States.

The aide, who spoke on condition he not be identified, said there are “clear winds of change” blowing through Burma. He said the purpose of the talks was to see how strong those winds are and to determine whether it is possible to improve U.S.-Burmese relations.

The official was accompanying Clinton to San Francisco for a meeting of U.S. and Australian foreign and defense ministers.

Earlier Wednesday, U.S. special envoy Derek Mitchell completed a five-day visit to Burma, his first since being confirmed in his post last month.

Mitchell said that in all his meetings, Burmese officials claimed they are committed to opening up the political system after decades of harsh military rule.

Mitchell said he had urged the Burmese leaders to back up their words with concrete actions, noting deep concerns about the government's detention of more than 2,000 political prisoners and its treatment of ethnic minorities.