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International relations

Senior US diplomat Sherman speaks with Myanmar shadow government

Humanitarian aid and path to democracy discussed with acting foreign minister

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, seen here on a May trip to Turkey, spoke with Zin Mar Aung, the acting foreign minister of Myanmar's government in exile.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke on Wednesday with a representative of Myanmar's government in exile, the first announced contact between a senior U.S. official and the rival administration to the generals who overthrew a democratically elected government.

The State Department said Sherman spoke with Zin Mar Aung, who has been appointed acting foreign minister in the shadow National Unity Government for Myanmar, also known as Burma.

"They discussed ongoing efforts to return Burma to a path to democracy, including continued U.S. support for the pro-democracy movement," its statement said.

"In addition, they discussed efforts to combat rising COVID-19 infections in Burma and to provide critical humanitarian assistance to the people of Burma."

Hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met virtually with counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and called on them to take joint action to urge the military to end violence, the State Department said.

He also urged the group's foreign ministers to push for Myanmar to "release all those unjustly detained, and restore Burma's path to democracy," the earlier statement said.

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