WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to Myanmar said on Tuesday he does not anticipate major changes in U.S. sanctions in the wake of the country’s historic election last month.
“I would not anticipate nor recommend any dramatic change,” Scot Marciel, currently a deputy assistant secretary of state and former ambassador to Indonesia, said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
However, Marciel said the sanctions system is “somewhat dynamic” and allows the measures to be eased if the targets are found to have made significant changes.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won a resounding victory in Myanmar’s Nov. 8 polls, which were seen as a significant step toward ending decades of military rule.
The Obama administration, which has continued deep concerns about human rights and other issues in the country, has remained cautious. U.S. officials have said they would watch for the democratic process to move forward before lifting more sanctions, which target more than 100 individuals and businesses and limit U.S. investment in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Generally, however, Washington is eager to expand relations with Myanmar as part of an effort to counteract China’s rise in Asia and take advantage of a growing, emerging economy.
Obama nominated Marciel to be his next envoy to Myanmar in October. To be confirmed, he must first be approved by the foreign relations panel, and then by the full U.S. Senate.
The date for those votes has not been set. There was no sign during the confirmation hearing of significant resistance to Marciel’s appointment.