Senate confirms first ambassador to Burma from US in 22 years

The United States now has an ambassador to Burma for the first time in 22 years after the Senate confirmed President Obama's nominee, Derek Mitchell, on Friday afternoon.

The unanimous consent vote caps a remarkable few months during which the United States restored full diplomatic relations in response to democratic reforms in the long-reclusive country, including parliamentary elections in April. The State Department is still debating how to lift sanctions first imposed on Burma, also known as Myanmar, after a crackdown on democracy activists in 1988.

Mitchell has been the special representative and policy coordinator for Burma since last year. Burma is also expected to send an ambassador to the United States.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) applauded the confirmation.

“I congratulate Derek Mitchell on his confirmation as our ambassador to Burma," McConnell said. "He has done an excellent job in his current role as Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma; his experience will serve us well in the region as he builds on the strong foundation established by Michael Thurston and our embassy team in Rangoon."

Michael Thurston was sent to Rangoon in August 2011 to serve as the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Burma.

Along with Mitchell, the Senate confirmed 10 other Obama nominees: 

• Edward Alford, to be ambassador to the Republic of The Gambia; 

• Peter Bodde, to be ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal;

• Piper Anne Wind Campbell, to be ambassador to Mongolia;

• Dorothea-Maria Rosen, to be ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia;

• Mark Asquino, to be ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea;

• Michele Sison, to be ambassador extraordinary to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives;

• Douglas Griffiths, to be ambassador to the Republic of Mozambique;

• Jay Anania, to be ambassador to the Republic of Suriname; 

• Susan Marsh Elliott, to be ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan; and 

• Richard Morningstar, to be ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan.