From Volume 36, Issue 39 of EIR Online, Published Oct. 9, 2009
Asia News Digest

U.S. Begins Serious Diplomatic Talks with Myanmar

Oct. 1 (EIRNS)—In the same week that U.S. talks with Iran are beginning, the United States, under the direction of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Assistant Secretary for Asia Kurt Campbell, initiated a dialogue with the military government of Myanmar, part of the "reassessment," announced last week, of U.S. relations toward that Asian nation. The British effort to drag the U.S. along in treating Myanmar, like Iran and North Korea, as a "rogue nation" and a "brutal dictatorship" that must be confronted rather than engaged, is beginning to crumble under the direction of the saner foreign policy forces within the Obama Administration.

Campbell testified Sept. 30 before a Senate committee hearing chaired by Jim Webb (D-Va.), who opened the dialogue unofficially with his historic trip to Myanmar in August. Webb confirmed that official administration policy is that sanctions have been a miserable failure, and that the [British-run] opposition in Myanmar is being told by the U.S. that it should drop its support for sanctions, and join in the 2010 election process, no matter how flawed the newly adopted constitution, or the electoral process, may be in the eyes of Western nations.

Webb challenged a professor from Indiana, who ranted about the Myanmar regime as "killers" and "rapists," who must be confronted, not engaged, by reporting on his own initial opposition to lifting sanctions against Vietnam, where he had fought as a Marine officer, until he visited the country and saw the damage done against the population by the sanctions policy. Now, he said, Vietnam is progressing rapidly, while Myanmar looks the way Vietnam did before the U.S. lifted sanctions and allowed the country to engage with the rest of the world. Does the professor, he asked, wish to keep the population of Myanmar in a state of backwardness?

It was of note that the name "Obama" was never mentioned at the hearing, as all the witnesses discussed the new policy as a State Department project, with no reference to the White House.

India, Africa Threaten Walkout at Copenhagen Summit

Sept. 30 (EIRNS)—India's Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh yesterday asserted that India will walk out of the Copenhagen Climate Change summit, to be held in December, if the Western world insists on enforcing any kind of legally binding agreement on carbon emissions. He charged European nations with adopting a fundamentalist approach, which was destroying the Copenhagen agenda. Ramesh said India would not take on legally binding emission reduction targets "because our per-capita emissions are low."

Earlier this month, at the African Union summit, leaders and environmental ministers discussed what Africa's "minimum demands" will be at the climate talks. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, elected to speak on behalf of the AU, outlined a series of demands, and said that if these demands are not met, the African nations will walk out of the Summit.

Ramesh pointed out that the developed nations' demands, which are reflected in the Copenhagen agenda—of monitoring, reporting, and verification for domestic projects—are totally unacceptable. There is no question of monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) for domestic projects and actions. We are open to this idea for internationally funded projects, something that has been stated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh time and again. There is no weakening of India's position and our initiatives will only give us the required strength to negotiate in the international forum, Ramesh added.

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