US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will make his maiden trip to Myanmar this month to discuss the Rohingya crisis. Tillerson will travel to Naypyidaw on November 15 to hold talks with senior officials on the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State and US support for Myanmar’s democratic transition, the State Department said today. More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh following a security crackdown in Rakhine, drawing allegations of ethnic cleansing and overshadowing Myanmar’s US-backed transition to democracy. Tillerson will also accompany President Donald Trump on his five-nation trip to Asia that starts this weekend. Trump is travelling to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
“The Secretary will also make an additional stop in Burma,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said. “Tillerson’s six-country visit demonstrates the Trump administration’s commitment to our alliances and partnerships in the Asia Pacific and highlights our ongoing engagement in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the East Asia Summit (EAS) on regional issues of mutual interest and concern,” she said. Giving a detailed itinerary of Tillerson’s Asia trip, Nauert said he will first travel to Tokyo for Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that starts Sunday. Tillerson will also join the president for summits with the leaders of South Korea and China, and for regional summits of Asia-Pacific leaders in Vietnam and the Philippines.
In Japan, he will also engage with Japanese and American business leaders and meet with the families of Japanese citizens abducted by the North Korean regime. “He will support the president’s focus on bolstering the US-Japan Alliance, strengthening our shared resolve on North Korea, and pressing for more balanced trade that fosters strong domestic demand-driven growth and free and fair trade practices,” the spokesperson said. In Seoul, he will join Trump in meeting with senior Korean officials to discuss the US-South Korea alliance and their shared global priorities, including coordinated response to the threat posed by North Korea. On November 8-10, the Secretary will visit Beijing and will participate in Trump’s summit meeting with President Xi Jinping. He will have discussions with Chinese officials on bilateral, regional, and global issues that affect both countries. At the top of the agenda will be North Korea and the economic relationship between the United States and China. The US seeks a constructive and results-oriented relationship with China, Nauert said.