US Secretary of State John Kerry hailed Myanmar’s transition to a civilian government steered by Aung San Suu Kyi as a “remarkable statement” that furthers the cause of global democracy. In the first high-level meeting with Suu Kyi and her administration since it took office in March, Kerry told the Nobel laureate her country’s evolution towards democracy after decades under the military served as a beacon of hope. “Today my message is very, very simple: we strongly support the democratic transition that is taking place here,” he told reporters at a joint press conference with Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyidaw. Historic elections in November swept Suu Kyi and her party into office and effectively ended half a century of military rule. Washington last week lifted a host of financial and trade embargoes, but has kept the backbone of its sanctions as well as a blacklist of cronies and businesses close to the former junta. Suu Kyi, a veteran activist whose decades-long struggle against the generals won the world’s admiration, has much political capital in Washington. She now serves as Myanmar’s foreign minister, while also holding the newly-created position of state counsellor putting her at the helm of government in defiance of an army-drafted constitution that bars her from the presidency. That role is now held by her longtime ally Htin Kyaw.
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Newsline: US top diplomat hails ‘remarkable’ Myanmar changes after Suu Kyi talks