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The military regime in Burma
has not taken any meaningful steps that would lend credibility to general
elections proposed for later in 2010. U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly
said that "much of the opposition remains in prison, there is no space for
political dissent or debate and no freedom of the press." Mr. Kelly called
for Burma to engage pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic leaders
"in a comprehensive dialogue on democratic reform. This," he said,
"would be a first step towards inclusive elections."
The U.S., said spokesman Kelly, "will continue to take a measured approach
to the 2010 elections until we can assess the electoral conditions and know
whether opposition and ethnic groups will participate."
These elections would be Burma's first since 1990. Aung San Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy party won the last election by a landslide, but was never
allowed to take office. Instead, Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has
spent most of the past twenty years under house arrest, along with National
League for Democracy Vice-Chairman U Tin Oo.
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In a break with past policies, the Barack Obama administration has attempted to
engage with Burma's military rulers, along with maintaining continued pressure
on the regime through economic sanctions. In meetings with representatives of
Burma's military leaders in 2009, U.S. officials, said Mr. Kelly, reaffirmed
"unwavering support for an independent, peaceful, and prosperous and
democratic Burma." The U.S. remains ready to improve bilateral relations
based on reciprocal and meaningful efforts by the Burmese government to fulfill
the Burmese peoples' democratic aspirations.
The United States looks forward to a day when Burmese citizens can freely
exercise their universal human rights. "We hope," said Mr. Kelly,
"that day will come soon."