(Irrawaddy) WASHINGTON — The US State Department today said time is running out for the Burmese junta to make progress in restoring democracy and releasing political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We are not unendingly patient. We will need to see some clear steps in due course,” Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said.
US officials are looking for greater clarity in the coming weeks, he said.
As the State Department’s point man on Burma, Campbell has held two rounds of dialogue with the Burmese military junta since October of last year after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the new US policy on Burma, which simultaneously follows a track of political engagement and economic sanctions.
Referring to the dialogue with the junta, Campbell said the US has had some follow-up direct interactions with the Burmese authorities.
“I think we are going to be looking at a subsequent set of discussions in the near future,” he said. “I would say to date it’s a mixed bag.”
“We have seen certain things that we have watched carefully. We have seen higher-level engagement with Aung San Suu Kyi. And we have seen other developments that we’ve looked at closely, but at the same time there are, of course, areas of real concern.”
Continuing problems include ethnic minority issues and the fairness and credibility of the upcoming national election, in addition to the detention of an American citizen inside the country.
“I think we went into this, both the review and a new set of policy priorities, with a very clear understanding of the challenges, that we had to be patient and that we had to recognize the enormous challenges that have come with every attempt and strategy for dealing with the regime,” he said.