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Myanmar not safe for Rohingya return : United Nations official

Myanmar not safe for Rohingya return : United Nations official

Richardson, a former USA ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary in Bill Clinton's administration, has a history of negotiating with governments hostile to the United States, including North Korea and Iraq, and freeing imprisoned Americans.

Veteran U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson denied he was asked by Myanmar's government to step down from an worldwide advisory board on the Rohingya crisis, his spokesman said on Friday.

Myanmar analyst Khin Zaw Win said Mr Richardson's words could deliver a "much-needed jolt for Aung San Suu Kyi and for the people around her who are not reporting the truth to her".

Some local observers have criticized Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for appointing worldwide experts to advise on the Rakhine crisis, saying the cost is too high. He suggested her reaction was stronger than those of some of the most notorious leaders of other authoritarian regimes he has dealt with. They also visited the strife-torn Rakhine State to meet with the local people of all communities - Rakhine Buddhists, Muslim minorities and Hindus.

The board nominees conducted a meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on January 22. "I spoke to one young woman who had been on the phone to her aunt in Rakhine in Myanmar".

While not all of Richardson's past interventions have been successful, in the mid-1990s he negotiated the release of an American held in North Korea on spying charges.

Richardson said that before his trip to Myanmar, he was phoned by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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Richardson described the body as a "whitewash" aimed at justifying the government's actions in Rakhine. "She exploded. She was very unhappy, and it shows that she didn't want to hear frank advice".

Almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled their homes in the northern part of Rakhine in response to military "clearing operations" that followed attacks by a militant Rohingya group on police on August 25. He also described her "furious" reaction when he brought up the case of two Reuters journalists arrested while covering the crisis.

Recently appointed Deputy Information Minister U Aung Hla Tun told reporters in Naypyidaw on Friday that Richardson had raised an issue that was beyond the commission's mandate, and pointed out that the trial of the two reporters could only be dealt with by the president. Many of her colleagues the National League for Democracy party were similarly jailed under arcane laws.

In a statement late on Thursday, the board said Richardson, who is a long-time friend of Suu Kyi, had to be asked to leave the body.

The Myanmar government has made a decision to terminate Bill Richardson, a former US state governor, as a member of the Advisory Board for the Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine state.

"It (HRW) owes the Philippines and the rest of the global community not just an explanation but also an apology for making unfair accusations by skewing the real numbers just so it could advance its own agenda", Cayetano said in a statement.

The former New Mexico governor's foundation, the Richardson Center, has "invested tens of thousands of dollars of its own money" in preparing for his role on the board "and were gearing up for a full year of robust programming for 2018", Bergman said.


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