US Envoy, Thai PM to Arrive in Burma
13 March 2010: US Assistant Secretary of State Mr. Kurt Campbell is due to arrive in Burma over the weekend, according to diplomatic sources in the former capital Rangoon.
Details of the unannounced trip are not available, but the visit is believed to be related to the publication of new Burmese election laws earlier this week, which the US calls a “Mockery of the democratic process.”
The US State Department has not confirmed the visit, but it comes a day after the high US official reportedly said that Washington’s new diplomatic maneuvers are failing.
The highest US official to visit Burma in several years, Kurt Campbell last visited the country in October 2009 and met with the junta’s Prime Minister Thein Sein and pro-democracy Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as, some ethnic representatives. The visit followed several months of policy reviews undertaken by Washington, which concluded that the new US administration will pursue a two-pronged strategy towards Burma: High-level diplomatic dialogue that goes in parallel with existing policy of sanctions.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit is also to visit Burma on Tuesday to inaugurate the opening ceremony of a new blood bank donated by the Thai Royal Family, diplomatic sources said.
A chorus of international criticisms has greeted this week’s announcement by Burma’s military junta of the new election laws. While many of Burma’s immediate neighbors remain quiet, the Philippines, which shares a membership with Burma in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has said the new law is a ‘farce.’ The US, Canada and the European Union have condemned the junta’s latest move to exclude members of the democratic oppositions from participating in Burma’s upcoming elections this year.