Visited Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos
U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) returned yesterday from a two-week, five nation visit to Southeast Asia. The purpose of the trip was to reinforce the importance of the region to the long-term interests of the United States, in terms of trade, culture, security, and diplomacy. Webb serves as chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Webb’s visits were the first by an American political leader to Mynamar in ten years, the first by an American Senator to Laos in six years, and the first by a member of Congress to Cambodia in the last two years. He became the first American leader ever to meet with Mynamar's ruling General Than Shwe and the first American political leader in six years to meet with Nobel laureate and political activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
“These five nations have a combined population well in excess of two hundred million people,” noted Webb. “Each country has its own history, and each has a different history with the United States. But it is vitally important for them, for the U.S., and for the health of the region that we remain vigorously involved in Southeast Asia.”
Senator Webb met with the top leadership of all five countries, including trade ministers, the prime ministers of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, and the deputy prime minister of Laos. He also met with American business leaders in the four countries not under economic sanctions by the U.S., speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and Vietnam and conducting round table discussions in all four countries regarding American business interests in Southeast Asia.
Senator Webb has called upon the United States and other nations to carefully review the sanctions policies against Myanmar. He also recommended to regional leaders that the ASEAN nations join together in calling for the Myanmar leadership to free Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and to allow her to fully participate in that country’s elections, now scheduled for 2010.
In Vietnam, Senator Webb and Vietnamese leaders held extensive discussions on recent sovereignty disputes between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea. They also discussed ways to continue Mr. Webb’s decades-long effort to repair the bitterness from the war that still exists between many in America's Vietnamese community and some elements of the Vietnamese government. Mr. Webb also held a private meeting with Vietnamese Catholic religious leader Cardinal Pham Minh Man, Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City.
view original source