Pacific Council delegation talks democracy in Myanmar with Aung San Suu Kyi
Los Angeles (January 14, 2013) – A delegation from the Pacific Council on International Policy traveled to Myanmar last week for high level discussions with individuals central to the peace process in that country, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The group – led by former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert H. Tuttle, and Pacific Council President and CEO Dr. Jerrold D. Green – also met with leaders in government, business, and the nonprofit sector.
The delegation included Dr. Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of Qualcomm, Inc.; Mr. William H. Neukom, former CEO of the San Francisco Giants and current President and CEO of the World Justice Project; and Mr. Scott Olivet, former Chairman of Oakley, Inc. During visits to Yangon and Naypyidaw, delegates sought to understand the pace and extent of current reforms and the effect of existing international sanctions. “We are deeply interested in Myanmar’s path as it transitions toward democracy,” said Dr. Green. “The challenges ahead are enormous, and international partners can play an important role in supporting the delicate process.”
President Barack Obama visited Myanmar in late November, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so, and delegation leaders called his trip a “significant good faith gesture”. Still, as violence continues in the northern state of Kachin, Suu Kyi cautioned delegates against overestimating the reforms initiated by Myanmar’s government thus far. The peace process will be gradual, she noted, and the country has a long way to go before the world should consider it a functioning democracy.
During the week-long visit, delegates also met with U “Thura” Shwe Mann, the speaker of the lower house of Parliament, and with U Than Nyein, the Governor of Myanmar’s Central Bank. Ambassador Derek Mitchell, the first U.S. ambassador to the country since 1990, hosted the group for a discussion of recent changes in the U.S. government’s level of engagement with Myanmar.
“The Pacific Council was pleased to be able to hear and share ideas with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Ambassador Mitchell, and others during our visit,” said Dr. Green. “We look forward to continuing our exchange and to serving as ongoing partners in this process.”
Melissa Lockhart Fortner
Senior External Affairs Officer
Pacific Council on International Policy