Joint Press Briefing by
Myanmar and the United States Foreign Ministers
Statement by H.E. DawAung San Suu Kyi, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
It’s a great pleasure for me to welcome the Secretary of State, John Kerry to our country for the third time. Or is it the fourth time? All the time he had been in here but always too short. I think we need more time together and I hope that next time we meet; we will be able to spend more time together to discuss matters of mutual interests to our two countries. Now, I think I will give the floor to our honoured guest because that will save me from having to make too long a speech. Thank you.
Statement by H.E. Mr John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States
Thank you. Now, Madam Foreign Minister and State Counsellor, what a pleasure to see you again. It’s very special for me. As the minister said, I had been here several times; we have lost tracks but this is the first time I have not lost track of. This is the first time I have been here when the government is officially recognized by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who for more than a quarter of a century has embodied the aspirations and the ideals of her people. Before I say more, your indulgence, Madam Minister, I do need to say something about a comment on the situation in Afghanistan. Yesterday, the United States conducted a precision air strike that targeted Taliban Leader Mullah Mansour in the remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Mansour posed a continuing imminent threat to US personnel in Afghanistan, to Afghan civilians, Afghan Security Forces and Resolute Support Coalition members across the country. And this action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan. The United States has long maintained that an Afghanled, Afghan's own reconciliation process is the surest way to achieve peace and peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort and to bringing an end to the violence and the suffering that the people of Afghanistan that have endured for so many years now. He also directly opposed to peace negotiations and to the reconciliation process. It's time for Afghan to stop fighting and to start building a real future together. And it is no secret that we are all living in a time and in a world that is marked by very complicated challenges.
The bottom line is - I know the Minister and State Counsellor will agree with me - that this is a moment of extraordinary promise for many countries and many parts of the world. That is precisely what brings me here today. The recent seating of Myanmar’s first democratically elected civilian led government since 1962 was an historical event for this country. But it wasn't just historic for this country; it was really historic course for democracy worldwide.
When I first visited Myanmar as the United States senator 17 years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi and her movements, and her activities were then heavily restricted. I visited her in her home - a home in which she spent many years isolated but never given up hope, willing to fight for the future of the country. At that time, the military leadership assured me that there were no political prisoners but the people of Myanmar prized, well they try to tell me that the people of Myanmar's prized honored more than the prides of the democratic rights. Time and again, Burmese people risked their lives in order to prove that theory was wrong and we were privileged in the United States along with many other countries and people to support because of the people of Myanmar.
Today my message is very simple. We strongly support the democratic transition that is taking place here. The landslide election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, the inauguration of the president U Htin Kyaw, and the seating of a new Union Parliament all of which include more than 100 former political prisoners - is the remarkable statement to people in the world. The people of Myanmar should be (I known are) extremely proud of the journey that you are on. The United States also welcomes Daw Aung San Suu Kyi appointment as the State Counsellor and the Foreign Minister. We applaud this action the new government has already taken to release political prisoners. Obviously, Myanmar has changed. And its change is much for the better so has our bilateral relationship as a result. Just as President Obama has made ASIA priority of his presidency, he has made Myanmar a central focus of our policy towards ASIA. He has visited this country twice, significant. And in consultation with the elected government and working with our own Congress, we’ve adjusted our sanctions policy now to strengthen democracy, to encourage inclusive economic growth and to facilitate foreign Investment in the civilian-led economy. At the same time, we are maintaining some sanctions in order to encourage all institutions, investors and members of civil society to support the government's continued reform efforts that are aimed at consolidating, a civilian led democracy.
Since 2012, we’ve provided more than $500 million in assistance for civil society, for national reconciliation, for democracy, for respects for human rights and enhancing the health and the food security for vulnerable populations. We’ve supported peace and reconciliation as well as families and communities in many parts of the country that has suffered from natural disaster or conflict including in Rakhine State. So I discussed each of these issues and more with the foreign minister this morning. I emphasized that although I came to this country with the message of support, and I also came to listen. I listened carefully this morning to the priorities of the government, to the ways in which the United States could try to be helpful and to the important hurdles we still need to work together, to get over. We also listened with respect to the relationships of Myanmar to ASEAN, to the region, to neighbours, to the other challenges that the country faces. I know that the legacy of more than half a century of military rule has not yet been completely erased. And I will be discussing, the military’s role in the democratic reform process and in the region when I meet with Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing later today.
So let me just make it clear that the late Vaclav Havel often talked about the difference between serving as a member of the democratic opposition and as your country's national leader. The differences, he put it, between the poetry of revolution and the prose of governing. To be obvious, today the governing effectively is as challenging - as has ever been in anywhere in many countries, even in countries that has been stable and democratic for centuries. The new government of Myanmar faces enormous economic and social challenges. But I want to underscore that it has already accomplished the extraordinary things.
So we wish the men and women of the new government well and we will do all that the diverse people of this extraordinary country want to and are hoping for in order to try to expertise this journey towards the completion of full democracy, to increase economic benefit, and stability for all of the people of Myanmar. It's my privilege again as I said before to be here, with a person I have respected for all of these years, whose example to all of us has been so important.