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Diplomacy in Action

Remarks at Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's Residence

Melanne Verveer
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues 
Rangoon, Burma
May 6, 2012


AMBASSADOR VERVEER: Good afternoon everyone. I just had a wonderful meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. And I want to say that for me it is an extraordinary honor to be able to spend some time with her as the world has been so inspired by her leadership, her commitment to democracy and for her great courage.

We congratulate her and her party on their recent election victory and we look at this time here in Burma as one that presents historic opportunities, but also is one of many challenges. And my own country is committed to continuing to take positive steps for continuing reforms to occur here. After the elections Secretary Clinton announced some additional commitments and we look forward to seeing progress made in terms of democratic reforms and in terms of investments in people that will ensure that a better life is possible for everyone here.

 ADate: 05/07/2012 Location: Yangon Description: Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer smiles with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a joint press conference after their meeting at Suu Kyi's residence.  © AP Image nd I just want to say personally as the Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues for the United States, I have come here to be here over the next few days particularly to look at the challenges and opportunities that impact women and growth recognizing that everyone in society has a role to play. And that no country can get ahead that leaves half of its people behind.

And already today I've had an opportunity to meet with extraordinary young women and as well as women who are entrepreneurs, working to grow the economy and I know that I will have continuing opportunities in the days that I am here as in most countries.

MS. SUU KYI: It’s been a great honor and great to meet and welcome the first United States Ambassador of Women’s Affairs. I was just counting the number of the women among the media people: thirteen. Not bad. We have thirteen MPs. We've got 13 women MPs into parliament. Thirteen seems to be our lucky number. And it’s very, very interesting to talk other women to find out how we feel the same about some many issues, even though we come from different parts of the world. And this is why it’s been such a pleasure to welcome you and to know that you have really enjoyed apart from getting a lot out of your visit to this country. And if you would to ask a few questions, I will have to limit it to a very few because the time is limited.

Shall we give precedence to women?

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: Sure, I am all for that.

Question: I am Yadana Tun from AP. As the Ambassador of the Global Women Issues, what are you concerned about for the war victims in Kachin State because most of them are women and children? And what actions will the US make on this issue?

MS. SUU KYI: Could you repeat the question? I think you need a mic.

QUESTION: As the Ambassador of the Global Women Issues, I would like to know what concerns the U.S. about war victims in Kachin State because the majority of them are women and children. And I would like to know what actions the US will take on this issue?

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: Thank you very much for that question. I think it is an important question. In much of the civil strife that's taken place in the communities, women have borne in many ways the greatest consequences, both in terms of some atrocities that have been committed and the numbers of them that have been displaced. And certainly, ceasefires are a first step. Then, there has to be a real effort within communities for them to be politically empowered to ensure that as agreements are reached they cover all of the issues that impact any of the community. And that women be at the table, be part of the discussions because they have much to say about what is needed going forward, and the roles that everyone in the community has to play. So I think that is a very important question and one of great concerns to us and I know certainly to Daw Suu and to everyone who cares about the conditions that continue to go on.

MS. SUU KYI: Any more questions? Maybe they just want to take photographs of you.

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: [laughter]. I think probably a few.

QUESTION: So can I ask you one more question? How will US get involved in this issue? I would like to know what actions you plan to make for this, according to your foreign policy.

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: One of the issues in terms of the women's piece that you raised, I will tell you is that my government has issued … recently President Obama promulgated a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. And it instructs our government to work with communities in conflict or coming out of conflict to ensure their myriad needs be ensured. But also to ensure that there is political empowerment taking place and women are fully participating. So, hopefully as we go forward and as there are opportunities and conditions are set that that might be one way in which we can help make a difference.

MS. SUU KYI: Well, one last question. Are the men going to do anything about it?


MS. SUU KYI: Well, I think they have taken enough photographs already.


MS. SUU KYI: So, I am going to take the Ambassador away. And thank you very much all of you.


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