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US uses ‘Myanmar’ name as ‘diplomatic courtesy’

Published on Jan 7, 2014 9:36 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States sometimes uses the official name Myanmar instead of Burma as a “diplomatic courtesy” to the Asian country, the State Department said Monday, in a sign of rapprochement. 

Military leaders changed the official name to “Myanmar” in 1989, saying that the old term “Burma” was a sorry legacy of British colonialism and implied that the ethnically torn land belonged only to the Burman majority.

But the opposition and exiles fiercely opposed the change, seeing it as a symbolic step to create an entirely new country, and the United States has stood in solidarity by calling the nation Burma.

On Friday, however, Secretary of State John Kerry twice referred to “Myanmar” in a statement marking the country’s independence day. The statement made no mention of “Burma.”

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