U.S. Secretary of State

by umer | 3:59 AM in |

U.S. Secretary of State

U.S. Secretary of State_U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's admiration for Myanmar democracy activist and former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi was hard to miss during her visit to Suu Kyi's home in Yangon. They stood together, hands clasped and all smiles -- and even shared a hug -- at a news conference Friday on Suu Kyi's porch before international journalists.

"I felt like I had known her for years," Clinton told CNN's Jill Dougherty on her second day of meeting with Suu Kyi, "because of all of the information I had about her and the interactions that friends of mine had about her that carried messages back and forth."
But Clinton's enthusiasm on the last day of her historic visit to Myanmar seemed to extend beyond her personal admiration for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who, until her release in November 2010, spent nearly 20 years under house arrest imposed by the country's regime -- one that now appears to be taking steps in the direction of democracy.

Clinton sees signs that the country, ruled by a military junta for almost 50 years and which in the past cooperated with North Korea in missile technology, may genuinely be opening up -- via its economy.

"They asked that I personally follow through with a request for the World Bank to send an assessment team, that we offer technical advice about how they can and should reform their economy," Clinton told CNN.

But the military ties with North Korea have to go if Myanmar -- called Burma by opponents of the regime and by U.S. officials -- wants deeper political and economic cooperation with Washington and with nearby democracies, such as "South Korea, which has a great deal to offer in terms of development assistance," Clinton said.

"Burma" was the name the country used decades ago, before the military junta took control and changed it to "Myanmar."

As North Korea still looms in the background, the Obama administration is not ending sanctions and is not making any abrupt changes in policy.

"We've made it clear that it would be difficult for us to pursue our engagement unless that relationship was once and for all ended." The message "had a receptive audience," Clinton said.

That receptiveness may partly be the result of intense diplomatic contact between the two countries preceding Clinton's visit.

"We've had about 20 or more high-level visits from our assistant secretary, our special representative and others. They have fanned out across the country, meeting with all kinds of people," Clinton said.

source :cnn