President Obama today declared a new chapter in US relations with Burma, easing an investment ban and naming the first US ambassador to the former pariah state in 22 years to reward it for democratic reforms. Burma's reforms over the past year or so have seen it emerge from decades of authoritarian rule and diplomatic isolation, although it remains dominated by its military. Obama pointed to the parliamentary election of opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi as a prominent example of progress in the Asian nation.
After meeting Burma's foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US was suspending sanctions on American investment across all sectors of the economy and export of financial services. She described it as the most significant action Washington has taken so far to reward Burma for its reforms. "Today we say to American businesses, invest in Burma, and do it responsibly," she told a joint news conference. Derek Mitchell will become the first US ambassador to the country since 1990 once he is confirmed by the Senate.