Thursday, September 21, 2017

US delays over appointment of special envoy to Myanmar

The United States last week insisted it would “soon” nominate a special envoy to further engagement with the Myanmar government and other stakeholders but admitted it was yet to select a candidate for the position.

At a State Department press briefing in Washington on June 9, spokesman Philip Crowley said the administration was “committed to appoint a special envoy” but hadn’t “selected a particular candidate yet”.

Under Public Law 110-286, introduced in 2008, the State Department is required to nominate an envoy, who then has to be approved by the US Senate.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on June 8, Senator Jim Webb reiterated his call for the Obama administration to make the appointment “without delay” and strongly recommended Mr Eric John, who is presently the US ambassador to Thailand.

“Ambassador John has spent many years in East Asia, and has long experience in dealing with the North Korean regime on issues that might be similar to those we will be facing in [Myanmar],” wrote Senator Webb, who was to visit Myanmar earlier this month but postponed his trip at the last minute.

Senator Webb noted that the special envoy’s role was to “promote a comprehensive international effort, including multilateral sanctions, direct dialogue with the [State Peace and Development Council] and democracy advocates, and support for nongovernmental organisations operating in Myanmar and neighbouring countries”.