Thursday, November 14
Palm Spring Hotel
Ambassador’s Remarks as prepared for the U.S. Embassy Myitkyina Reception
Thank you all for being here tonight. It’s good to be back in Myitkyina and Kachin State. I want to begin with a few words about the reason we are here. We came up to Myitkyina as a group from the U.S. Embassy in Yangon because of the value we place on our historic relationship with the people of Kachin State, on our longstanding support for political and economic development, and on our hope for a bright and prosperous future for everyone living here. I want to mention, of course, the special bond that exists because of a shared history of our peoples working alongside one another – including the famous stories of Americans and the people of Kachin fighting side by side during World War II.
From where we sit, in Yangon, this relationship is a part of our overall efforts to work with people throughout Myanmar. That means working with you in support of freedom, democracy, human rights, and economic progress. It means working on finding ways for people throughout this country to have more of a say in local affairs, in addressing development needs and questions of political and social advancement. One word for this is federalism. As the people have decided, through democratic elections, federalism in some form is a priority for Myanmar.
I don’t have to tell you that Kachin State faces many challenges. The challenges of forging lasting peace, sustainable economic development, of fighting the scourge of narcotics. I know these enormous issues cannot be solved overnight. But I also know that the people of Kachin are up to the task. And we are here tonight as a signal of support for your good efforts. We have faced similar challenges in our own history, and we continue to face challenges today. To take one example, in America, too, we are trying to figure out how to combat a rise in drug addiction.
In my almost four years as the U.S. Ambassador in Myanmar, I have spent a lot of time listening to the many voices of this country, which is a diverse, plural society. Kachin State is representative of that diversity – a diversity that reminds me of my own country. This diversity comes with rewards and challenges, as you know. Despite adversity, though, I find such tremendous cause for optimism in Kachin State. My optimism comes from seeing the strength of diversity as different communities live and work together. It is a valuable point for all of us, in Myanmar and throughout the world. We at the Embassy are grateful that you spent this time with us on our visit to your state. Thank you.