By Daniel Strauss - 11/30/11 04:53 PM EST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Burma on Wednesday, the first time in 50 years that an American secretary of State has visited the country.
Clinton plans to urge the country to end clandestine nuclear and military arms relations with North Korea and will meet with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
She is the first secretary of State to visit Burma, also known as Myanmar, since 1955 when John Foster Dulles went to the country.
The visit hints at a thawing of relations between the military dictatorship and the United States. It comes as the country is easing its restrictions on its citizens.
Clinton’s purpose in visiting is to learn more about the country’s new government and its plans in the near future, according to a senior official at the State Department.
The secretary said she wants to encourage the country to sign an anti-nuclear proliferation protocol.
“I am obviously looking to determine for myself and on behalf of our government what is the intention of the current government with respect to continuing reforms, both political and economic,” Clinton said before landing in Burma. “And I’m going to save specific comments till I’ve had that chance, starting tomorrow, to begin my consultations.”
Before the Burma visit, Clinton was in South Korea, where she met with President Lee Myung Bak and his Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. Clinton said they focused on nuclear nonproliferation in the region.
“And we particularly focused on the importance of promoting nuclear nonproliferation on the Korean Peninsula,” Clinton said. “I also congratulated President Lee on the passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. It has been a long time coming, it took a great deal of work on both sides, but now we can get down to the important business of creating more jobs and economic opportunities for both our people.”
She also condemned attacks on the British Embassy in Iran. Iranians attacked the embassy to protest sanctions put in place on their country by Britain.
“The United States condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms,” she said. “It is an affront, not only to the British people but also to the international community, and we stand ready to help in any way that we can to make the point, as strongly as possible, that governments owe a duty to the diplomatic community to protect life and property, and we expect the government of Iran to do so.”
The British government is withdrawing its ambassador and embassy staff from Iran in protest.