A top U.S. diplomat traveled to Burma recently to meet senior officials in the new government and consult with civil society on the political and human rights situation there. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Yun met Burma's foreign affairs minister and the deputy speaker of the People's parliament, as well as business leaders and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, ethnic minorities and political parties, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Syi. His visit reflects our nation's continued willingness to engage with the government of Burma, while still pressing its leaders for needed change.
Relations between the U.S. and Burma face serious challenges, but rather than isolate the regime, we aim to air our differences and seek possible common ground. Unfortunately, Burma has still shown little progress in improving human rights overall. We have long called for the release of all political prisoners there, estimated to number more than 2,000. The clemency program recently announced was disappointing, in that it reduced prison sentences by just one year and included only a few political prisoners.
To maintain pressure for reform, the United States has renewed for another year its targeted economic sanctions against Burma. These restrictions are aimed at senior officials of the regime and their key supporters who are responsible for preventing Burma’s transition to genuine democracy. We will continue to sustain pressure on the Burmese regime, while at the same time pursuing engagement, as we strive to promote positive change for the citizens of Burma.