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Remarks by Vice President Pence and Union Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma Before Bilateral Meeting

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Millenia Singapore, Singapore

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, thank you, Madam State Counselor. Thank you for reaching out for this meeting. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to meet with you to speak about the important and historic partnership between the United States and Burma.

The United States desires a prosperous, peaceful, successful civil society in Burma with a free and independent press. And I look forward to hearing from you about the progress of democratic reforms in Burma and how the United States might continue to support your leadership and the efforts on behalf of the people of your country.

I'm also very anxious to hear about the progress that's being made regarding the Rohingya. This is a tragedy that has touched the hearts of millions of Americans. The violence and persecution by military and vigilantes that resulted in driving 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh is without excuse. I'm anxious to hear about the progress that you're making, holding those accountable who are responsible for the violence that displaced so many hundreds of thousands and created such suffering, including the loss of life.

In addition to the impact on the hundreds of thousands affected, we are anxious to hear about the progress of making it possible for the Rohingya to voluntarily come home.

And your leadership, the recent establishment of a commission in the area is of great interest to our administration, to the American people, and I'm anxious for the results of that.

Let me also say that, in America, we believe in our democratic institutions and ideals, including a free and independent press. And the arrest and jailing of two journalists last fall was deeply troubling to millions of Americans, and I look forward to speaking with you about the premium that we place on a free and independent press.

But again, I thank you for reaching out for this meeting, and I look forward very much to our discussion on all of these issues with the hope that the democratic reforms that the United States has supported in Burma, the humanitarian efforts that the United States has supported with regard to the Rohingya will ultimately result to a peaceful, successful civil society, and to really a new beginning for the people of Burma.

And I'm grateful -- grateful for you being here.

STATE COUNSELOR AUNG SAN SUU KYI: Well, are we supposed to start the remarks now or (inaudible)?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: You can make some comments if you'd like.

STATE COUNSELOR AUNG SAN SUU KYI: Well, it's always good to get together and to discuss issues in which we're both interested. Of course, people have different points of view but the point is that you should exchange those views and learn to understand each other better.

And, in a way, we can say that we understand our country better than any other country does. And I'm sure you will say the same of yours, that you understand your own country better than anybody else does. So we are in a better position to explain to you what is happening and how we see things panning out.

And we welcome all friends to help us and support us in everything that we are doing to make our country a safer and more prosperous place for everybody concerned.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you. Thank you all very much.

END


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