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US: Use of ‘Myanmar’ doesn’t mean policy change

January 6, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department says its use of the name “Myanmar” in a message marking the Southeast Asian nation’s independence day does not reflect a change in U.S. policy.

Spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday the U.S. government officially still refers to the country as Burma — the name ditched by the former ruling junta in 1989.

U.S. officials have agonized over which term to use as direct military rule has ended in Myanmar and relations have improved.

Last year, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used “Burma” in a statement to commemorate the nation’s Jan. 4 independence day. But her successor, John Kerry, this year used Myanmar instead.

Harf maintained that U.S. policy has not changed, but said “in certain settings U.S. government officials refer to the country as ‘Myanmar’ as a diplomatic courtesy.”