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Video: Hillary Clinton calls on Myanmar to free Aung San Suu Kyi and begin “internal dialogue” with her and other “stakeholders”

Here is the text from the State Department website:

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, there is not a meeting. There may very well be the opportunity for our leaders, including myself, including the President, to meet the leaders of Burma – something that we have not done before. But we just recently concluded a very successful visit by Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and Deputy Assistant Secretary Scot Marciel, who is with me, to Burma, where they met at length with not only government officials, but more importantly, in an unmonitored setting with Aung San Suu Kyi, with members of her party, with others who represent opposition voices and concerns, with representatives of ethnic minorities that are worried about their treatment at the hands of the current government.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

And we have made it very clear we are not lifting sanctions on Burma, but we are trying to encourage Burma to conduct the kind of internal dialogue with all of the stakeholders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, that could lead to there being fair, free, and credible elections next year. We think that is an essential first step. We are continuing to call for the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi. We believe that her detention over so many years is baseless and not founded on any concern other than that she is a leader of the political opposition.

So I don’t want to prejudge what the Burmese people themselves, if given the chance, might decide for themselves. But I will underscore our skepticism about an election that does not include all of the people or their representatives who are in opposition. It’s up to the individuals to decide who runs and who doesn’t run, but there should be no doubt that the United States wants to see an open, free, credible election process. And that’s what we’re calling on from the leadership of Burma, but we don’t believe that we can cause that to happen from the outside.

What we want to do, along with friends like the Philippines and other ASEAN members, is to encourage, urge, persuade the leadership of Burma to enter into this dialogue with their own people, to create the conditions for legitimacy that should be apparent when you have an election. And that’s what we’re looking to achieve.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, ma’am.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I was just wondering if there is a plan to release Suu Kyi so she would be able to participate or prepare for the coming – for next year’s election. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if we were in charge of the plan, that would be the plan, because we think she should be released. We don’t think she should be in detention. We believe that she has every right, as any person should have, and certainly that she has demonstrated over the years a commitment to democracy, to participate in the active democratic life of her country as she chooses, not as the United States chooses and not as the Burmese leadership chooses, but as she chooses.

So we’re going to continue to call for her unconditional release, and we want to see this kind of dialogue among all of the various parties within the country, and then they should determine how to go forward. It shouldn’t be up to us to determine that. So we want to create the process that would result in a free, fair, and credible election, so that whoever wished to participate or chose to participate would be able to do so, the results would be legitimate in the eyes of the world. That is what we are hoping for the Burmese people.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you very much. May we request, Secretary Romulo, for a final few words, if he so wishes?

FOREIGN SECRETARY ROMULO: Well, I’d like to thank, first of all, the Secretary of State for being with us today. We have had a very fruitful and productive meeting. And I’d like to thank the members of the press, both the foreign press and the local press, for the questions, which I think brought forth productive answers. And I hope that the Secretary will have a pleasant stay here in the Philippines, because as I said, the Filipinos love her. I told her that there are Hillary fans and fanatics here, and therefore we are most happy that she is here with us. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Secretary Romulo. Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton. That concludes our press conference.

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.