Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to arrive in the US capital on Monday, where she will receive the highest US Congressional award on Wednesday.
A number of important events may also take place at some point during her visit and the visit of Burma’s President Thein Sein scheduled later in September, when he will speak to the UN General Assembly in New York City.
Analysts say a further release of Burmese political prisoners may take place, and also there could be an official announcement that the US will move to rescind the ban on Burmese imports, which analysts said is now under discussion in the White House and State Department. Such a decision can only be made in the US Congress, unlike the removal of the ban on US investments in Burma, which was made by President Barrack Obama’s executive order.
It was announced that Thein Sein will visit Beijing this week prior to his arrival in the US later this month, a move analyst said underscored the importance of the world’s largest nation to Burma, which has invested heavily in the country's energy, mining and other sectors.
US firms have already signaled they are preparing to move into Burma’s long dormant economic market, representing an undeveloped nation of nearly 60 million people. Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and General Electric have already made first-step moves to enter the market.
“I think the U.S. will want to make a show of supporting Myanmar's reforms, especially if it gets what it wants—some more prisoners released,” said Sean Turnell, a Myanmar expert at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, on an article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend. Estimates are that up to 300 political prisoners could still be in Burma’s jails.
In a speech to foreign investors in the Myanmar capital of Naypyitaw this week, US Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell said, “We are very serious…even if fully extracting ourselves from the Byzantine array of restrictions imposed over the years may take some time.”
The EU is now preparing plans to grant Burma preferential trade status, which will improve access for Burma’s exports.
While no meeting between Obama and Suu Kyi has yet been officially announced, it is almost assured that such a meeting will take place. The Burmese president's advisers say he would like to meet with Obama also.
Richard Horsey, a Burma analyst, was quoted in a BBC report this weekend, saying it would be “particularly unhelpful” if the US president chose to meet Burma’s democracy champion but not the government's political leader.
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