Myanmar calls U.S. senator's visit a success
YANGON (Reuters) - State media in army-ruled Myanmar on Tuesday hailed the visit by a United States senator as a success and said it allowed the authorities to show their friendliness and respect for human rights.
A commentary carried by three official newspapers said Democrat Senator Jim Webb's three-day visit, the first by a senior U.S. official in more than a decade, demonstrated Myanmar's openness toward international engagement.
"The visit of Mr. Jim Webb is a success for both sides as well as the first step to the promotion of relations between the two countries," the commentary said.
"The Myanmar government was able to show a positive and friendly attitude in the area of international relations. It has also been able to show its respect of humanitarianism and human rights."
Webb met at the weekend with junta supremo Than Shwe and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sent back to her lakeside home on August 11 to serve another 18 months' house arrest for violating an internal security law.
He called, unsuccessfully, for the Nobel peace laureate to be freed during talks that secured the release of American John Yettaw, who was jailed on charges stemming from a swim to her home, the incident that led to her latest trial.
Under President Barack Obama, the United States is reviewing its policy toward Myanmar, although he has extended a ban on U.S. investment there and imports from the country.
In Bangkok on Monday, Webb said he had urged the generals to allow Suu Kyi to take part in Myanmar's political reform process and to ensure next year's elections -- the first in two decades -- were free, fair and inclusive.
"I was very frank with (Than Shwe) in terms of my views," said Webb, chairman of a Senate subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific. "The best thing on those issues is to see how the government responds."
Myanmar has been ruled by the military under various guises since a 1962 coup. The country has held only one election since then, in 1990, when the junta ignored the landslide victory by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party.
Next year's polls have been dismissed by critics as a sham aimed at legitimizing the army's grip on power.
(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Alan Raybould)
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