Taken Question
Deputy Department Spokesman, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 25, 2009


Question: Can you confirm that a U.S. official (U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert Blake) met with Burmese officials in Burma yesterday and does this represent a softening in policy towards Burma?

Answer: No. As the Acting Deputy Spokesman said at today’s Daily Press Briefing, Ambassador Robert Blake did not meet with Burmese officials yesterday.

However, Stephen Blake, the Director of the Office for Mainland Southeast Asia at the State Department went to Burma as part of a five-country tour of the countries that fall under his office: Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

In Burma, Mr. Blake met with a variety of people representing a wide range of views regarding the current situation, including Foreign Minister Nyan Win, other members of the Burmese government, members of ethnic minority groups, and members of the National League for Democracy’s Central Executive Committee (aka “The Uncles”).

His visit does not reflect a change in policy or approach to Burma; Office Director-level officials, including Mr. Blake’s two immediate predecessors, have visited Burma and met with Burmese officials on a number of occasions in recent years.

The Burma policy review announced by Secretary Clinton is still underway. While we have not yet finalized our approach, we remain committed to encouraging a genuine dialogue between the Burmese authorities and opposition that leads to a free and democratic Burma that respects the rights of its diverse citizens and is at peace with its neighbors.



PRN: 260