US senator concludes Myanmar visit

Sunday, August 16, 2009

US Senator Jim Webb (L) meets with Myanmar's top military leader Than Shwe in Naypyidaw August 15, 2009.

YANGON: Democratic Senator of the United States Jim Webb concluded his three-day visit to Myanmar Sunday afternoon, bringing out from the country along with him an imprisoned American citizen John William Yettaw who was released and deported by the Myanmar government.

Meeting with the press before departure at the Yangon International Airport, Webb, Chairman of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he hopes that the US-Myanmar relations would improve, thanking the Myanmar government for freeing Yettaw.

Webb also said the US Administration is reassessing its policy towards Myanmar and he would make proposals for the move after he is back to the country.

Webb arrived in Myanmar on Friday on a three-day visit as part of his two-week tour to five Southeast Asian nations at the invitation of Myanmar Foreign Minister U Nyan Win.

During his visit in Nay Pyi Taw, Webb met with Myanmar top leader Senior-General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Prime Minister General Thein Sein and the State Constitution Drafting Commission, led by Chief Justice U Aung Toe, on the government side.

Webb also met with leadership of 10 legal political parties including the National League for Democracy (NLD) and National Unity Party (NUP) and that of some ethnic peace groups from Kachin, Shan and Kayah special regions as well as representatives of some social organizations.

A handout picture taken on May 13, 2009 and provided by Myanmar News Agency shows US Citizen John William Yettaw in Yangon. [Agencies]

He was arranged by the government to meet with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under suspended 18 months' sentence of confinement to her residence during which she is allowed to meet guests with permission.

Aimed at exploring opportunities to advance US interests in Myanmar and the region, Webb's Myanmar visit also represents the first ever one to the country of a member of the US Congress in over a decade.

The visit came days after a Myanmar district court sentenced on August 11 the 54-year-old epilepsy-suffering American, John William Yettaw, along with Aung San Suu Kyi, to seven years' rigorous imprisonment on conviction of charge of entering into Aung San Suu Kyi's restricted lake-side residence for three days in early May.

Webb's five-nation trip had also taken him to Laos and he is proceeding to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia after Myanmar visit.


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