The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus, may visit Myanmar later this year, officials said on Tuesday, in what would be the latest signal of warming relations with the United States as Myanmar emerges from years of military rule and diplomatic isolation. Mr. Petraeus discussed the possibility of a visit to Myanmar, also known as Burma, during a meeting in Bangkok on Monday with the Thai foreign minister, Surapong Tovichakchaikul. Mr. Surapong told Thai news media that Mr. Petraeus said he would “definitely” go to Myanmar.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Myanmar in December in what was widely seen as an effort by the United States to check the rising power of China — for years Myanmar’s main benefactor — and to encourage political change in Myanmar. An American official in Bangkok, who requested anonymity while discussing intelligence matters, confirmed on Tuesday that Mr. Petraeus had told Thai officials that “Secretary Clinton asked him to travel to Burma later this year.” At least three separate delegations of American officials have visited Myanmar during the past two months, but a trip by Mr. Petraeus would allow for more detailed discussions and deeper cooperation between the two countries, said Robert Fitts, director of the American studies program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “They can set up channels that wouldn’t have been possible for Secretary Clinton,” he said.
The United States and Myanmar had relatively close military and intelligence cooperation until the late 1980s, when the Burmese military crushed a popular uprising, leading to two decades of degraded relations between Myanmar and Western countries. Washington announced last month that it would upgrade diplomatic ties and appoint an ambassador to Myanmar after more than a decade without one. “What the U.S. is trying to do,” Mr. Fitts said, “is send every signal of support to the forces pushing for liberalization in Burma.”