Aung San Suu Kyi and Hillary Clinton to Meet

Dec 1, 2011, 13:27 by R.E. Christian

Washington will loosen pressure on Myanmar so long as slow political reforms in the country maintain momentum, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Clinton is the first sitting U.S. secretary of state to visit Myanmar in a half century. Her visit coincides with a general climate of political reform in the former military regime.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, last year had general elections for the first time in decades and released Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aun San Suu Kyi from house arrest. Her political party won elections in the 1990s that were never recognized. She says she is re-entering the political process.

Clinton praised Myanmar's President Thein Sein for taking modest steps at democratic reform but said, with thousands of political prisoners still imprisoned, further reforms are needed.

Clinton said that as Myanmar stepped up reforms, Washington would respond in kind by easing diplomatic pressure on the country.

"We have agreed to International Monetary Fund and World Bank assessment missions to begin studying the needs on the ground for development, particularly in rural areas, and poverty reduction," she said. "These are beginning steps and we are prepared to go even further if reforms maintain momentum."

Source: UPI