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US announces major shift in Burma policy

In a major shift in its policy towards Burma, the US on Thursday said it would simultaneously adopt the policy of both sanctions and engagements with the junta there as part of international efforts to promote democracy in the military-run state.

world Updated: Sep 24, 2009 15:15 IST

In a major shift in its policy towards Burma, the US on Thursday said it would simultaneously adopt the policy of both sanctions and engagements with the junta there as part of international efforts to promote democracy in the military-run state.

At the same time, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton insisted that its ultimate goal of protection of human rights and establishing democracy in Burma remains unchanged.

While the policy was previewed by Clinton before a 14- member group of 'Friends of Burma' including India at the UN headquarters in New York, a senior State Department official told reporters in a late night conference call that the process of high-level engagement has already begun.

Clinton said that the US would apply both tools – engagement and sanctions – but would pursue same goals.

"To help achieve democratic reform, we will be engaging directly with Burmese authorities. This is a policy that has broad consensus across our government, and there will be more to report as we go forward," Clinton said told reporters.

"I would emphasise that we talked to the Burmese already," the State Department official said adding that they were expecting the Burmese military junta to soon announce a point man for the US-Burma dialogue.

It is very much possible that senior officials from the Obama Administration would meet the top junta officials who are currently in New York to attend the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly.