The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific. This post features Ambassador Than Swe, Representative of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to the United States of America.
Who is he?
Than Swe is Myanmar’s new ambassador to the United States. He formally presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on July 30. His early career was spent in the military, where he rose from the rank of second lieutenant to colonel between 1975 and 2000. He then spent almost nine years as director general of the Progress of Border Areas and National Races Department before serving his country in New York from 2008 to 2012, first as deputy permanent representative and then as permanent representative to the United Nations.
Why is he in the news?
Than Swe is Myanmar’s first ambassador to the United States since 2004 when the country began appointing chargé d’affaires to the United States instead. The position was restored following the recent normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Myanmar which also saw the appointment of his counterpart, U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell. Than Swe assumes his position at a critical time when the United States and Myanmar are engaged in what Washington calls an “action for action” approach in which reforms in Myanmar are reciprocated with U.S. moves to strengthen relations.
What can we expect from him?
Than Swe is intimately familiar with U.S.-Myanmar relations, having served as his country’s interlocutor during the dialogue which led to the resumption of normal diplomatic relations over the past few months. Myanmar’s foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin said in his trip to the United States in May that he had “full confidence in him” because of the “excellent job” he had done in that capacity. He will continue to serve as a key agent in reinvigorating the U.S.-Myanmar relationship amid groundbreaking but still fragile reforms in his country.