VOA Chief Holds Talks in Burma on News Bureau

Posted June 4th, 2012 at 1:10 pm (UTC-5)
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VOA Director David Ensor is in Burma seeking to negotiate terms that would allow the U.S. broadcaster to open a news bureau in the long-isolated southeast Asian nation.

Ensor held introductory talks Monday in the Burmese administrative capital, Naypyitaw,with Parliament speaker Thura Shwe Mann.

“He (the speaker) seemed very open and interested in some advice on how to proceed, on how best to proceed to bring greater democracy to Burma. So it was a good meeting and we are interested in the (VOA Burmese language) service having more ability to report directly on the ground here in the country.”

The visit comes as part of a wide-ranging set of diplomatic initiatives aimed at opening Burma to the West, after decades of harsh military governance. Military rule combined with Western economic sanctions left Burma lagging far behind its neighbors in trade, commerce, human rights and other signs of democratic life.

Ensor said he will use his four-day mission to meet with several key officials in the new, nominally civilian government that came to power last year.

“I'm here to meet with a number of other officials as well. So we're really just getting started right now. I'm going to meet, I think tomorrow (Tuesday) with the Information Ministry and with people in state broadcasting. I (also) hope to pay a courtesy call on the foreign minister.”

The new Burmese government unblocked access to VOA's news website last year, but the international broadcaster has not had an official presence inside the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1947.