<!-- IMAGE -->
President Barack Obama has become personally involved with the United States' effort to engage with the government of Burma, making a direct appeal for the release of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.
At a Leaders meeting in Singapore, Mr. Obama reaffirmed America’s willingness to improve relations if Burma pursued democratic reforms and freed Aung San Suu Kyi and more than 2,000 other political prisoners. Existing U.S. economic sanctions on Burma will remain in place until there are concrete steps toward democratic reform, he said.
South East Asian leaders joined in the President’s call for reform and said that next year’s scheduled elections in Burma must be conducted in a free, fair, inclusive and transparent manner in order to be credible to the international community. Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein also attended the meeting.
Burma's military has controlled the country since 1962 and presides over one of the least developed economies in Asia. Tensions also run high between the government and the nation's many ethnic minorities. If Burma's internal problems are left unaddressed they will continue to threaten the stability of the region and erode the poor quality of life for most Burmese.
Since Mr. Obama took office and the U.S. completed a review of its Burma policy, American and Burmese officials have engaged in serious discussions. The President’s comments demonstrate his interest and commitment to promoting democracy in Burma.
The U.S. hopes that Burma’s military leaders will seize the opportunity to improve its relations with the international community with broad political and economic reforms. The world is eager for Burma's response.