Sunday, August 16, 2009

Myanmar deports American citizen out of relations with U.S.: official

YANGON, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Myanmar government said on Sunday night that its decision to deport imprisoned American citizen John William Yettaw is out of attachment of importance to bilateral relations with the United States, according to the state-run Myanmar Radio and Television.

At the request of Democratic Senator of the U.S. Jim Webb, who is Chairman of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar, Yettaw's seven years' rigorous imprisonment, sentenced by a Myanmar district court on Aug. 11, was commuted half and the remainder half was suspended by deportation, the report quoted a government order as saying.

The 54-year-old epilepsy-suffering Yettaw was convicted by the court on charge of entering into Aung San Suu Kyi's restricted lake-side residence for three days in early May.

The government's decision was made also on grounds of sympathy with his health and his future, the report said, adding that Yettaw left the country along with Webb on conclusion of the latter's three-day visit to Myanmar Sunday afternoon.

Webb told the press before his departure from Yangon that he hopes that the U.S.-Myanmar relation would improve, thanking the Myanmar government for freeing Yettaw.

Webb also said the U.S. Administration is reassessing its policy towards Myanmar and he would make proposals for the move after he is back to the country.

Webb arrived in Myanmar on Friday on a three-day visit as part of his two-week tour to five Southeast Asian nations at the invitation of Myanmar Foreign Minister U Nyan Win.

During his visit in Nay Pyi Taw, Webb met with Myanmar top leader Senior-General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Prime Minister General Thein Sein and the State Constitution Drafting Commission, led by Chief Justice U Aung Toe, on the government side.

Webb also met with leadership of 10 legal political parties including the National League for Democracy (NLD) and National Unity Party (NUP) and that of some ethnic peace groups from Kachin, Shan and Kayah special regions as well as representatives of some social organizations.

He was allowed by the government to meet with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under suspended 18 months' sentence of confinement to her residence in connection with Yattaw's case, becoming the first foreign official to meet with Suu Kyi after her sentence.

Webb's Myanmar visit also represents the first ever one to the country of a member of the U.S. Congress in over a decade.

Webb's five-nation trip had taken him to Laos and he is proceeding to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia after Myanmar visit.

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