US Senator Urges Rewards for Burmese Reforms

Posted April 11th, 2012 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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An influential U.S. senator says he will urge American officials to find ways to reward Burma for its recent steps toward further democracy.

Senator James Webb made the remarks in Rangoon Wednesday, the same day that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with President Thein Sein for the first time since her historic election to parliament last week.

Webb in 2009 became the most senior U.S. official to visit Burma in more than a decade. He said Wednesday that it is time for the United States to do more to reward Burma for its recent reforms.

“When I return to Washington to engage in discussions with other members of Congress, with the leaders of our administration, so that we can find the right way to look at changes in policy that will reward the positive actions that this current government has taken, and also to continue incentives for future change.”

The United States has already eased some economic sanctions since April 1 by-elections in which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy captured 43 of 45 seats in nationwide by-elections. She and her allies will take their seats on April 23, becoming the main opposition party in a parliament dominated by military-backed political parties.

The NLD boycotted the 2010 elections that ended decades of military rule in Burma. Since taking office a year ago, President Thein Sein has enacted a series of democratic reforms, including greater press freedom and the release of many political prisoners.

Aung San Suu Kyi met with President Thein Sein for the first time last August. Those talks paved the way for her to re-enter politics after spending 15 of the last 22 years under house detention during the former military regime.