Brunei — United States Secretary of State John Kerry says Myanmar’s political reforms are “very exciting” but still “incomplete”, two days after the release of 56 political prisoners.
Mr. Kerry made the comments at the ASEAN 2013 summit in Brunei where he is later scheduled to meet with Myanmar President Thein Sein at a regional summit, according to reports.
“We have to see that the political transformation continues,” he said. “Our hope is that the democracy will continue to evolve”.
On Tuesday Myanmar set some 56 political prisoners free, and Thein Sein has vowed to release all “prisoners of conscience” by the end of this year.
A U.S. State Department official said Kerry will meet with Mr. Sein to discuss the “next steps in ongoing political reforms in Myanmar”.
Since taking power in March 2011, Thein Sein has earned international praise and the removal of most western sanctions for the reforms he has enacted which include the release of hundreds of political prisoners detained under the former junta.
As such, Myanmar’s relations with the U.S. have improved quite dramatically, with U.S. President Obama making a historic visit to the country last November.
Reforms included the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from many years of house arrest, and her election to parliament in by-elections last year.
However, parliament remains largely controlled by the military and its political allies, while a recent outbreak of religious violence has caused concern about the situation in Myanmar. Image/Getty Images/Kuni Takahashi