US nominee to seek coordination with China, India on Myanmar

US nominee to seek coordination with China, India on Myanmar

Mitchell, who has been nominated by Obama to be the first US Coordinator for Policy on Burma, told his confirmation hearing in the US Congress that Myanmar was a source of concern and political instability in the region.

Contending that the policy of pressure and engagement alone has not worked in that country, he said he would seek "direct and candid" talks with Myanmar's leaders and suggested that the US should "respond flexibly and with agility to opportunities as they arise."

Mitchell said he hoped to coordinate policy with key players like China, India, Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"To date, in my view, the inability of key members of the Burma-interested community around the world to coordinate their approach to Burma has only undermined the effective realisation of shared objectives," he said.

With a government that has chosen to distance itself from the outside world, Myanmar is now the poorest country in Southeast Asia and "a source of great concern and potential instability in the region", he said.

Though rich in natural resources, nearly a third of its population lives in poverty and thousands are forced to seek asylum in neighbouring countries due to "systemic repression" of the ethnic-minorities, he said.

He said though the Myanmar government has claimed a successful transition to a disciplined democracy, a political system that exhibits anything close to recognisable standards of representative democracy remains to be seen.

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