Archives for July, 2013


coaxed Myanmar in from the cold

YANGON, Myanmar (Reuters) Myanmar generals were looking for a chance to improve ties with the United States. A disturbed American gave them one in May 2009, when he swam across Yangon Inya Lake on mission cheap moncler jackets womens from moncler outlet store God to rescue Aung San Suu Kyi.

A boy sits near Botahtaung Pagoda read more here moncler outlet in central Yangon December 10, 2011. Myanmar’s generals were looking for a chance to improve ties with the United States. REUTERS/Soe Zeya uk moncler sale Tun

John Yettaw, a 53 year old Vietnam veteran from Missouri, had hoped to smuggle the democracy champion out of the country in a burkha. He was convicted along with Suu Kyi for violating the terms of her house arrest. senator.

It was a major step in Myanmar warming toward the West but not the first one.

Interviews with dozens of officials in Yangon, Washington and Southeast Asia, and an examination of diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks, show that the United States and Myanmar had started waltzing warily toward each other in the first year of Barack Obama presidency.

Yettaw bizarre night time swim gave impetus to the dance. But it began with Myanmar fears moncler outlet sale of rising Chinese influence in their country and was given crucial help by Indonesia top diplomat. Secretary of State in five decades.

Whether Myanmar remains on the reform path is an open question. The military junta yielded to a nominally civilian government last year. officials moncler sale online expressed worry in interviews that Myanmar leadership may not be moving in lockstep. It remains impossible to determine exactly what is going on inside moncler outlet woodbury the secretive government.

Among the questions discount moncler jackets is how far Yangon is willing to embrace Suu Kyi and her fellow democrats. Washington and its allies must encourage a reformist faction led by President Thein Sein against what they fear could be an eventual effort by hardliners to throttle back cheap moncler sale the moncler sale outlet process. officials hope the prospect of improved economic ties with the West will help consolidate the reformers gains. But China remains a powerful and cash rich suitor, and Beijing has sought to parry Clinton overtures by sending its own top diplomat, State Councilor Dai Bingguo, to Myanmar to offer more cooperation. Chinese officials have also moncler outlet prices reached out to Suu Kyi herself their highest contact with the Myanmar opposition in two decades.

ASEAN GAMBIT The new administration of President Barack Obama signaled at the start of 2009 a pivot towards cheap moncler jackets mens Asia. An emerging China had made moncler usa strong economic and diplomatic inroads the previous decade moncler outlet while America was absorbed with militant uk moncler outlet Islam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Western moncler uk outlet trade and investment sanctions, meanwhile, had taken a toll on Myanmar, and it had increasingly been pulled into the economic orbit of China, its giant neighbor to the north.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, saw an opportunity to change Myanmar tilt toward China.

The goal, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said in an interview, was to encourage political and moncler online store economic reforms that might convince Washington to ease sanctions. ASEAN dangled before the generals a prestigious prize, he says: the 2014 chairmanship of the regional bloc. relations with ASEAN. The Yangon gambit was seen by both Washington and ASEAN as key to balancing China rapid emergence in Asia.

than anything it was a recognition that what we were trying, which was simply sanctions and the like, was unsuccessful, a senior Obama administration official said. was simply not working. I think also there was a recognition best moncler jackets that we were out of step with everyone else.

SUSPICIOUS WARRIORS Myanmar thick wall of distrust toward the West began softening after a natural disaster in 2008. military could one day find a pretext to intervene in Myanmar, diplomats in Myanmar said. The country warrior class will never forget how easily the British sailed up the Irrawaddy River in 1885 and with a thousand soldiers took the royal town of Mandalay, bundling King Thibaw and his family into exile in Bombay. military planes fly in desperately needed relief aid after a cyclone swept over the Irrawaddy Delta and into Yangon, killing nearly 140,000 people in May 2008. It also moved the moncler womens jackets capital to the remote town of Naypyitaw from Yangon, a mere 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Andaman Sea. military planes were eventually allowed to fly in more than $40 million of supplies. The disaster forced senior Myanmar moncler sale officials to interact with foreign relief workers. main insight in Naypyitaw was that they could open up, allow in aid and interact with foreigners, and the sky wouldn fall in.

UNEQUIVOCAL MESSAGE Shortly after taking moncler outlet online office in January 2009, Obama and Clinton announced they were reviewing policy on Myanmar. That gave the generals an opening when Yettaw made his swim in the summer of 2009. Senator James Webb flew to Myanmar days after their convictions that August. The Virginia Democrat said he did not ask for a meeting with the reclusive leader of the junta, Than Shwe.

never make a demand as to who I want to see, in any country, he said in a recent interview. Yet the Burmese offered a meeting with Than Shwe nonetheless. I took it, Webb said with a laugh. official had ever met the enigmatic cheap moncler jackets junta leader, now 78. A lifelong military man, Than Shwe had specialized in psychological warfare and, according to diplomats, relied heavily on advice from soothsayers. He had led the junta since 1992.

A businessman with ties to senior generals said Than Shwe had been looking for an cheap moncler coats mens opportunity to improve ties with Washington for some time. The junta was even getting encouragement to do so from China.

Embassy officials attended the August 14, 2009 meeting between Than Shwe and Webb at a guest house in Myanmar newly built capital of Naypyitaw. They noted that he and the other generals at the meeting seemed comfortable speaking in English.


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