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US FM Tillerson invites Suu Kyi to Washington

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a press conference after talks with Chinese diplomatic and defense chiefs at the State Department in Washington on 21 June 2017. (PHOTO: REUTERS)

Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state for the new Trump administration in the USA, called Aung San Suu Kyi by telephone on Tuesday to invite her on an official visit to Washington, according to the director-general of the Burmese State Counsellor’s Office.

Zaw Htay told DVB on Friday that the US foreign secretary had invited Suu Kyi, who is both state counsellor and foreign secretary in Burma, to the US capital “in accordance with the countries’ diplomat relations.”

However, he said that no dates had yet been fixed for the trip.

The US embassy in Rangoon released a brief statement on Thursday, saying that Secretary Tillerson had “underscored the ongoing US commitment to Southeast Asia and discussed important regional security challenges [with Aung San Suu Kyi]”.

Murray Hiebert, the deputy director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, wrote an article on 2 June, opining that the new US president, Donald Trump, should call Suu Kyi.

He said that Trump should invite her to Washington, and noted that his administration’s lack of contact with Burma “leaves a sizeable hole in the new administration’s outreach to Southeast Asia”.

In the report, Hiebert added: “To be sure, Myanmar’s transition has been bumpy and faces giant hurdles. Late last year, the military, which does not report to Aung San Suu Kyi, responded with harsh tactics to an October attack by Rohingya Muslims on some police outposts in Rakhine [Arakan] State that have prompted concerns in the United States and many western countries about atrocities and abuses.”