The top-level US delegation now in Burma is sending a signal that cooperation between US and Burma’s military can only come if the country makes further progress on human rights issues.
Vikram Singh, US deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, in Burma now with the delegation, reflects the Pentagon’s desire to establish contacts between Burma’s military and the US armed forces, the Foreignpolicy.com magazine website said on Monday.
But only if human rights progress continues, it said.
An officials statement said: “Much work is left to be done in these areas, but the United States is interested in supporting Burma in these efforts. A resumption of bilateral defense ties can only occur with additional progress and we hope that the Burmese military will continue to support the civilian government, promote and accept its reforms, and improve its human rights record.”
Currently, the U.S. has no official bilateral military ties with Burma, but the easing of sanctions in July allows US companies to provide financial services to Burma’s defense ministry, it said.
A spokeswoman said, “The official US Government policy regarding defense activities with Burma remains one of disengagement, except in limited humanitarian and diplomatic instances.”
Respect for human rights, civilian oversight over the military, and transparency are hallmarks of all modern, professional militaries and the key to their legitimacy with their own people, said the FP report.
This week, Mizzima reported that the 22-member US delegation included senior military officials and others who will attend a human rights dialogue conference and meet with government officials.
The delegation is led by Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner and includes senior representatives from the White House National Security Staff, the Office of the Vice President, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of Defense.
The delegation will attend the first bilateral Human Rights Dialogue, which reflects the US administration’s whole-of-government approach to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law, officials said.