US renews hand to Burma

The United States on Wednesday renewed its offer of better ties with Burma if it makes progress on democracy as the military-ruled nation prepares to mark independence from Britain next week.In a statement ahead of the 62nd anniversary on Monday, the US State Department offered its “warmest wishes” to the people of Burma and its “unwavering support” for the nation’s independence.

“The United States stands ready to take steps to improve bilateral relations based on reciprocal and meaningful efforts by the Burmese government to fulfill the Burmese peoples’ democratic aspirations,” it said, using Burma’s former name of Burma.

“We support the peaceful efforts of people everywhere to exercise freely their universal human rights, and we look forward to the day when Burma’s citizens will be able to do so. We hope that day will come soon,” it said.

Burma has detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi for most of the past two decades and has long been a US pariah. The junta routinely uses Independence Day to denounce “neo-colonialists” interfering in its affairs.

But the United States has opened high-level dialogue with the junta, part of President Barack Obama’s policy of reaching out to US adversaries.

The junta plans to hold elections next year which the opposition fears will be a sham. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy swept the last elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power.

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