The US Senate has confirmed the appointment of the United States’ first ambassador to Myanmar in 22 years.
Derek Mitchell, a veteran US policymaker on Asia-Pacific affairs who has served as President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Myanmar since August, was nominated by the president in May and confirmed by unanimous consent by the upper house Friday.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell welcomed Mitchell’s confirmation, saying the diplomat’s experience “will serve us well in the region,” the Associated Press reported.
More from GlobalPost: Burma rebooted
According to the Agence France Presse, the US is currently represented in Myanmar by a lower-level diplomat in the country’s biggest city, Yangon. Washington pulled its ambassador out of Myanmar following a military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988 and the failure of the ruling military junta to recognize Aung San Suu Khi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) electoral victory two years later.
While Suu Khi – who spent much of the past two decades under house arrest – led the NLD to a landslide 43-seat victory in legislative by-elections this April, and recently returned from her first visit to Europe since 1988, Myanmar’s government is still controlled by the army, and concerns over human rights violations and political repression persist, according to the BBC.