A senior US diplomatic official has reportedly met with a delegation from Burma on the margins of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
Kurt Campbell, assistant US secretary of state for Asia, is thought to have met Burma’s science minister U Thaung.
Meanwhile US Senator Mitch McConnell restated Washington’s demand that Burma must release its political prisoners and hold fair elections.
He added that sanctions against the Burmese junta must stay.
His comments came after Burma’s prime minister, General Thein Sein, demanded an end to economic sanctions in an address to the UN General Assembly.
“Sanctions are being employed as a political tool against [Burma] and we consider them unjust,” said Thein Sein, the highest-ranking Burmese official to address the General Assembly in 14 years.
“Such acts must be stopped,” he said.
The United States cannot “even consider” easing sanctions until the military-led country has freed all political prisoners, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
“The United States must also insist that Burma comply with its international obligations and end any prohibited military or proliferation-related co-operation with North Korea,” he said.
Indonesia, a leading member of the Association of South East Asian Nations which includes Burma, has hailed the United States’ decision to engage with Burma.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda called on the Burmese generals to respond positively to the US offer, perhaps by cutting back the time in which Aung San Suu Kyi is detained.
Burma plans to hold its first election in two decades next year, but few observers believe the process will be free or fair.