(Mizzima) – As a reward for Burma’s effort to implement democracy, the Obama administration has named the first full ambassador to Burma in more than two decades.
As expected, the administration named its current special envoy for Burma, Derek Mitchell, who has spearheaded the U.S. engagement with Burma during the past year. He is a well-known figure among Burmese officials, and a widely respected expert on Asian affairs.
“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and Burma” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “Since I announced a new U.S. opening to Burma in November... Burma has made significant progress along the path to democracy. The United States has pledged to respond to positive developments in Burma and to clearly demonstrate America's commitment... That is what we are doing.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Mitchell would be the first U.S. ambassador in the country since 1990. The U.S. is currently represented by a lower-level diplomatic officer. Observers say his confirmation could take up to three months.
His appointment came during an announcement on Thursday that the U.S will suspend sanctions that had blocked American investment in Burma, but it will keep “relevant laws on the books as an insurance policy” and maintain a U.S. arms embargo.
Washington will issue general licenses to permit investment, saying U.S. oil and gas companies, mining, and financial companies all now free to do business in Burma.
“Today we say to American business to invest in Burma and do it responsibly,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Let's all work together to create jobs, opportunities and support reform.”