(AFP) – Dec 2, 2011
YANGON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday she would give Myanmar's leaders a chance to ensure accountability for the past, stepping back from a previous call for a UN-backed war crimes probe.
"We are going to support the principle of accountability and the appropriate mechanism to ensure justice and accountability will be considered," she said.
"But I think it's important to try to give the new government and the opposition a chance to try to demonstrate they have their own approach toward achieving that," Clinton told reporters at the end of a three-day visit.
Clinton last year voiced support for a Commission of Inquiry, a longstanding demand of rights groups who have documented widespread complaints of abuses such as the detention of political opponents and forced labour by the military.
Clinton was visiting Myanmar on a landmark visit to encourage reforms in the country formerly known as Burma as the new nominally civilian leadership launches reforms and dialogue with the opposition and ethnic minorities.
The regime has released more than 200 political prisoners but many more remain behind bars.
"We always and consistently support accountability for human rights violations, and we are looking for ways to support the changes that are under way here," Clinton said after talks with President Thein Sein as well as pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi for her part has said she supports a UN-backed inquiry, but stresses the aim should be to uncover the truth and not to seek revenge or international court action against Myanmar's generals.
Clinton noted that the new government had announced a human rights commission, made up of former ambassadors, government officials and academics, in response to a UN appeal for a probe into alleged rights abuses.
She urged the government to draw on international expertise "to ensure the impartiality and the credibility" of the panel.
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