Hkun Htun Oo, who had a brief meeting yesterday with President Barack Obama, just before his televised half hour address to the host nation, said he saw Obama’s visit as “constructive”.
“He (Obama) had focused on national reconciliation in his speech, which is exactly what we need here,” added Hkun Htun Oo.
According to President Obama: “No process of reform will succeed without national reconciliation. You now have a moment of remarkable opportunity to transform cease-fires into lasting settlements, and to pursue peace where conflicts still linger, including in Kachin State. Those efforts must lead to a more just and lasting peace, including humanitarian access to those in need, and a chance for the displaced to return home.”
The leader of the second largest winning Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) in the 1990 elections had a few minutes with both Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Until a genuine federal union emerges, there will be no peace,” he told them. “I fully guarantee that there will be peace in the country the day the federal union becomes a reality. Please help us to make it happen.”
President Obama, during his speech said, “I have confidence that as you do that you can draw on this diversity as a strength and not a weakness. Your country will be stronger because of many different cultures, but you have to seize that opportunity. You have to recognize that strength.
I say this because my own country and my own life have taught me the power of diversity. The United States of America is a nation of Christians and Jews, and Muslims and Buddhists, and Hindus and non-believers. Our story is shaped by every language; it’s enriched by every culture. We have people from every corners of the world. We’ve tasted the bitterness of civil war and segregation, but our history shows us that hatred in the human heart can recede; that the lines between races and tribes fade away. And what’s left is a simple truth: e pluribus unum -- that’s what we say in America. Out of many, we are one nation and we are one people. And that truth has, time and again, made our union stronger. It has made our country stronger. It’s part of what has made America great.”
The 69 year old politician, who spent 7 years in jail from 2005-2012, also said there is a need to see that the military does not return to the cities (to suppress the reforms). “We are all prepared. There is support for both U Thein Sein and Daw Suu. It’ll therefore be a terrible misfortune if the military decides to return. Things will get ugly and Burma will lose credibility. We will therefore need to work together to prevent it from coming back.”
The SNLD together with the Shan CSOs are organizing the Trust building for Peace Conference to be held next week, 26-28 November.
Vice President Sai Mawk Kham, ministers U Aung Min and U Soe Thein, the Shan State Army, both Northern and Southern factions, among others, are expected to participate in the event.