Under a dual-track policy governing relations with the government of Burma, the United States has reached out to that nation's leaders for increased cooperation and engagement, while at the same time maintaining diplomatic and economic pressure for needed democratic reforms. To oversee this policy, President Obama has appointed and the U.S. Senate recently confirmed our nation's first Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma.
Ambassador Derek Mitchell brings a wealth of experience on regional matters, most recently as a top official in the U.S. Defense Department dealing with Asian and Pacific security affairs. In his new capacity, he will bring a sustained, high-level focus to Burma in the U.S. government and coordinate our policies with the broader international community toward shared goals of genuine reform and reconciliation in the broader interest of regional peace and stability.
We have long called on Burmese authorities to release all political prisoners, to recognize the legitimacy of the National League for Democracy, or NLD, and to enter into a genuine and inclusive dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition and ethnic groups as a first step towards national reconciliation. The United States welcomes the beginning of dialogue between Burmese leaders and NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, including her first meeting with President Thein Sein and her meetings with the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Aung Kyi. The government has also removed from its newspapers daily criticism of foreign media such as the Voice of America and officially invited armed ethnic groups to join peace talks for the first time.
Ambassador Mitchell's confirmation is an important step in the United States' principled engagement policy towards Burma, and he looks forward to building upon U.S. dialogue and engagement with Burma through his new position. We hope the government there will seize the opportunity to work with him and continue building on these positive first steps toward reform and reconciliation with pro-democracy and ethnic groups.