Senior US officials visit Burma
November 3, 2009 - 4:29PM

Two senior US officials have made the highest-level visit to Burma in more than a decade, a US Embassy spokesman says.

The talks are being billed as a key turning point in Washington's longtime stance of shunning the military junta.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the top US diplomat for East Asia, and his deputy Scot Marciel were scheduled to meet senior Burma junta officials on Tuesday and detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi a day later, embassy spokesman Richard Mei said.

The two-day trip is part of a new US policy that reverses the Bush administration's isolation of Burma in favour of direct, high-level talks with a country that has been ruled by the military since 1962.

Campbell will be the highest ranking US official to visit Burma since a September 1995 trip by then-US Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright.

The American diplomats flew on Tuesday from Bangkok, in neighbouring Thailand, to the administrative capital of Naypyitaw in a US Air Force plane, Mei said.

The embassy spokesman said Campbell will be continuing talks he began in September in New York with senior Burma officials, the first such high-level contact in nearly a decade.

"Mr Campbell's visit is the beginning of new US engagement policy toward Myanmar (Burma). This is the first step of the engagement but we have to see what comes out of the new engagement policy," said Nyan Win, spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

Nyan Win said Campbell will meet NLD leaders at party headquarters in Rangoon after he holds talks with Suu Kyi on Wednesday.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years.

Suu Kyi was recently convicted and sentenced to an additional 18 months of house arrest for briefly sheltering an uninvited American, in a trial that drew global condemnation. She is one of an estimated 2,100 detained political...