US officials visit Myanmar for talks

Associated Press / November 4, 2009

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YANGON, Myanmar - The United States began a new policy of engagement with Myanmar’s ruling military junta yesterday, sending two senior diplomats for the highest-level visit in more than a decade.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the top US diplomat for East Asia, and his deputy, Scot Marciel, held talks with junta officials and also were to meet detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, embassy spokesman Richard Mei said.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years.

The Obama administration has reversed the Bush administration’s isolation of Myanmar in favor of direct high-level talks with a country that has been ruled by the military since 1962.

“Mr. Campbell’s visit is the beginning of a new US engagement policy toward Myanmar. This is the first step of the engagement but we have to see what comes out of the new engagement policy,’’ said Nyan Win, spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party.

Campbell is the highest-ranking US official to visit Myanmar since a September 1995 trip by then-United Nations Ambassador Madeleine Albright.

The American diplomats flew yesterday from Thailand to the city of Naypyitaw, Mei said. He said Campbell was continuing talks he began in September in New York with senior Myanmar officials.