United States Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell will visit army-ruled Myanmar in the next two days to meet with government ministers and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, a diplomat said on Saturday.
Campbell, Washington's top official for East Asia and the Pacific, will travel to the new capital, Naypyitaw, on Sunday to meet officials from the ruling junta. He is expected to meet Suu Kyi and opposition politicians the following day.
A senior U.S. State Department official said on Friday Campbell would only go to Myanmar if he was allowed by the regime to meet the long-detained Suu Kyi.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner's National League for Democracy (NLD) party was effectively disbanded on Friday after it chose not to re-register as a political party ahead of this year's long-awaited election in the former Burma.
"Frankly, I don't think his visit will produce any outcome that will have some meaningful impact on ties between the regime and the NLD," an Asian diplomat, who requested anonymity, told Reuters on Saturday.
"I understand that the regime will go ahead with the elections with or without the NLD. All Campbell can do is to urge the regime to make the elections free and fair," he added.
The U.S. embassy in Bangkok said Campbell, currently in Manila, will brief reporters in the Thai capital on Sunday morning but made no mention of his visit to Myanmar.
Phyo Min Thein, chairman of the Union Democratic Party (UDP), one of 30 which have applied to run in the election, told Reuters he was making arrangements through U.S. diplomats for the UDP and other parties to meet Campbell in Yangon.
The United States embarked on a policy of deeper engagement with Myanmar last year in the hopes of spurring democratic reforms in the country, which has been under military rule for nearly five decades.
Myanmar plans this year to hold elections that critics have derided as a sham designed to entrench army rule by letting the military keep control of key ministries while pulling the strings behind a civilian-fronted government.
Campbell and a U.S. delegation made a landmark visit to Myanmar last November, the first of its kind in 14 years by a country that has been largely dismissive of the military regime and has strict sanctions on the isolated country.
After the visit, Campbell's deputy, Scot Marciel, told reporters in Bangkok the United States was taking a "pragmatic approach" to the elections and did not expect immediate results.
He urged the junta to ensure the polls were free, fair and inclusive, adding that an election without Suu Kyi or her party would be "very hard to see as credible".
The NLD had given no indication at that time that it would boycott the polls, which it said were unfair and unjust. The NLD's snub has angered many of its supporters, who say the move has played into the hands of the ruling generals.
ReutersLast Mod: 08 Mayıs 2010, 17:38