Clinton: US, Burma will exchange ambassadors


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi talk prior to dinner at the US Chief of Mission Residence in Rangoon, Myanmar, December 1, 2011.


Saul Loeb

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday the United States will exchange ambassadors with Burma, also known as Myanmar, in response to its freeing political prisoners and other reforms, The Associated Press reported.

Clinton announced the decision after Burma's President Thein Sein issued a pardon and freed hundreds of political prisoners. On Friday, Burma freed 651 prisoners, including students, high profile political activists, opposition figures and army dissidents.

More from GlobalPost: Burma frees high-profile dissidents in prisoner amnesty

President Barack Obama released a statement praising Sein's efforts toward reform and urged the government to allow those released to run for office in the upcoming by-elections:

[This] is a crucial step in Burma’s democratic transformation and national reconciliation process. I’m pleased that Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed this step as she continues to pursue a dialogue with the government. I urge the government to ensure that these and all other former political prisoners are allowed to participate fully and freely in the political process."

The move comes a day after Burma’s government signed a cease-fire agreement with the ethnic Karen rebels, ending an insurgency that has spanned nearly 60 years. It also follows a recent high-level visit by Clinton.

In December, Clinton met with government officials and one-on-one with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Clinton is the highest-ranking US official to visit Burma in more than a half-century.

More on GlobalPost: Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi will run for parliament (VIDEO)