Washington, Nov 3 (IANS) US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Myanmar to push for an end to the violence that has plagued the country’s Rakhine state resulting is the mass exodus of the Rohingya Muslim minority, the State Department announced.
He will visit the country’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, where he will meet with “senior leaders and officials on actions to address the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State”, according to the announcement made on Thursday, and will express US support for the country’s recent democratic transition.
The visit will take place on November 15, as Tillerson wraps up a 10-day trip across Asia with President Donald Trump.
A State Department spokesperson told CNN that Tillerson will use his visit to “urge leaders to establish conditions under which Rohingya can return to Rakhine in a fully safe and voluntary manner”.
Tillerson has been increasingly vocal in condemning attacks on Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslims.
Speaking at an event this week, he said the US was “extraordinarily concerned” about the situation, urging the country’s military leaders to show restraint.
“What’s most important to us is that the world can’t just stand idly by and be witness to the atrocities that are being reported in the area,” he said.
The UN estimates that some 603,000 Rohingya have fled across the border into neighbouring Bangladesh since August 25, when an attack on security forces in Rakhine triggered the widespread violence, CNN reported.
UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has referred to the plight of the Rohingya as “textbook ethnic cleansing”.
The State Department is currently reviewing whether the situation meets the legal definition of ethnic cleansing.
In recent weeks, Tillerson has spoken by phone with Myanmar’s de-facto civilian leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and the head of the military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.