Former US ambassador to Myanmar headed to country for US visit

Gintautas Dumcius, CNN • Updated 11th June 2019 ( CNN ) — Myanmar will see the second leg of its first ever major U.S. diplomatic trip by President Donald Trump’s recent former ambassador to…

Former US ambassador to Myanmar headed to country for US visit

Gintautas Dumcius, CNN • Updated 11th June 2019

( CNN ) — Myanmar will see the second leg of its first ever major U.S. diplomatic trip by President Donald Trump’s recent former ambassador to the country.

William “Bill” Richardson will meet with the President, Government leaders and other dignitaries in Myanmar in June, a senior administration official confirmed Friday.

Richardson, who also serves as an energy adviser to the DNC, is the President of World Business Partners International, a commercial association of top US and foreign business leaders.

The former diplomat currently serves as chief executive officer of Wellpower — a company that provides clean drinking water to more than 1.5 million people in 20 countries.

Previously, Richardson served as a member of the US State Department’s Africa Command, and as the leader of the Global Development Professionals Task Force.

In 2005, Richardson was the first US official to be expelled from Myanmar, as the country’s military government was taking power.

Myanmar will hold parliamentary elections in November, marking the first time that the country’s government has been directly elected.

Richardson, whose father was born in Burma, will also discuss to alleviate the many humanitarian challenges faced by the people of Myanmar.

These include the Rohingya crisis, but also will highlight the crucial role the private sector can play in helping the country, especially by accelerating the country’s development, according to the official.

Richardson has advised world leaders, including President Barack Obama, during his diplomatic posts. He worked to forge peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the late 1990s.

CNN was first to report that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Richardson would discuss with the Myanmar Government and its armed forces and in certain areas the Rohingya crisis.

Richardson’s trip comes just days after President Trump tweeted that an “evil cult” had taken over Myanmar. The unsubstantiated allegation led international leaders, including Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to condemn the president for making it possible for a “vile, vicious cult” to cause so much suffering.

The former ambassador took issue with Pompeo’s comments.

“It’s really very disturbing,” Richardson told CNN. “The most important thing here is you have a beautiful, beautiful place in this country with a lot of potential, and you’re not using it for the purposes for which it was created and that is to foster democracy in this country. And the first steps are having an educational mission for the press. You need to establish a beginning of freedom of the press, a free press. You need an independent judiciary. You need to have checks and balances in this country.”

— CNN’s Susan Candiotti and Adrienne LaFrance contributed to this report.

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