|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement on Burma
January 18, 2001, Washington, DC
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. I wanted to come down and make this statement personally because this is an issue that I have cared about and will continue to care about, and it makes so much difference to all who care about democracy and human rights around the world.
For the past eight years, the President and I have worked hard to support the advocates of peaceful democratic change in Burma, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Today, I am issuing the following statement, making clear our position on new talks that are taking place between Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese military regime.
This is the statement:
'The Burmese Government and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have recently confirmed that they are engaged in a dialogue. We hope it represents a genuine effort to achieve national reconciliation and that it brings swift and concrete progress toward ending abuses of human rights in Burma, which regrettably continue. Burma needs a new beginning, not another false dawn.'
'This Administration has worked continuously and with bipartisan support to aid the Burmese people in their struggle for human rights and democracy. We have imposed sanctions against the ruling military to help keep Burma's democratic opposition, and thus hope for change, alive. We have worked closely with the United Nations and our Asian partners to encourage diplomacy aimed at dialogue. And I am confident America's efforts will continue as long as they are necessary. '
'The President and I have been particularly concerned about the continuing use of forced labor by the Burmese Government. Last year, the International Labor Organization asked world governments, businesses and trade unions to review their relation with Burma 'and take appropriate measures to ensure that it cannot take advantage of such relations to perpetuate or extent the system of forced or compulsory labor.'
'Forced labor is unlikely to end in Burma as long as democracy is denied. Thus, it is especially important for the current dialogue to lead to genuine progress: the full and free participation of the National League for Democracy and the Burmese people in the political life of their country, the release of political prisoners, and an end to forced labor.
'We want to give this process the opportunity to succeed, but the President has asked me to make clear that, in the absence of significant progress, ILO members, including the United States, should be prepared to consider additional measures, including trade sanctions, to respond to the ILO's call to action.'
That is the end of the statement. And let me just add that the President and I welcome these talks and sincerely hope that this dialogue is genuine and leads to real improvement in the lives of the Burmese people. All Americans should look forward to the day when the Burmese people will truly be free to govern themselves.
Thank you all very much.
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