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News

Pacific Council delegation talks democracy in Myanmar with Aung San Suu Kyi

Kenton Hanson

Los Angeles (January 14, 2013) – A delegation from the Pacific Council on International Policy traveled to Myan-mar last week for high level discussions with individuals central to the peace process in that country, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The group – led by former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor, for-mer U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert H. Tuttle, and Pacific Council President and CEO Dr. Jerrold D. Green – also met with leaders in government, business, and the nonprofit sector.

The delegation included Dr. Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of Qual-comm, Inc.; Mr. William H. Neukom, former CEO of the San Fran-cisco Giants and current President and CEO of the World Justice Project; and Mr. Scott Olivet, former Chairman of Oakley, Inc. During visits to Yangon and Naypyidaw, delegates sought to un-derstand the pace and extent of current reforms and the effect of existing international sanctions. "We are deeply interested in Myanmar's path as it transitions toward democracy," said Dr. Green. "The challenges ahead are enormous, and international partners can play an important role in supporting the delicate process." 

President Barack Obama visited Myanmar in late November, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so, and delegation leaders called his trip a "significant good faith gesture". Still, as violence continues in the north-ern state of Kachin, Suu Kyi cautioned delegates against overestimating the reforms initiated by Myanmar's gov-ernment thus far. The peace process will be gradual, she noted, and the country has a long way to go before the world should consider it a functioning democracy. 

During the week-long visit, delegates also met with U "Thura" Shwe Mann, the speaker of the lower house of Parliament, and with U Than Nyein, the Governor of Myanmar's Central Bank. Ambassador Derek Mitchell, the first U.S. ambassador to the country since 1990, hosted the group for a discussion of recent changes in the U.S. government's level of engagement with Myanmar. 

"The Pacific Council was pleased to be able to hear and share ideas with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Ambassador Mitchell, and others during our visit," said Dr. Green. "We look forward to continuing our exchange and to serv-ing as ongoing partners in this process." The Pacific Council on International Policy (pacificcouncil.org), headquartered in Los Angeles, is the lead-ing international affairs organization on the west coast of the United States. The Council is governed by a Board of Directors chaired by the Honorable Mickey Kantor and Ambassador Robert H. Tuttle. Dr. Jerrold D. Green serves as President and CEO.