Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, Washington’s top official for East Asia and the Pacific, was travelling to Burma later on Sunday to meet government officials and key figures including detained Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
“I will say we are troubled by much of what we have seen and we have very real concerns about the election laws and the environment that has been created,” Mr Campbell told a news conference in Bangkok.
“We will be looking to clarify some questions and also to urge the government to broaden its overall approach.”
The election, on an as yet unspecified date this year, has been dismissed by many analysts as a sham after nearly five decades of army rule in the strategically located but isolated country, which is rich in resources such as gas, timber and gems.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), which won Burma’s last election in 1990 in a landslide ignored by the junta, was effectively disbanded on Friday after choosing not to re-register as a party for a poll it says is unjust and unfair.
But he indicated he would be talking to pro-junta parties and might also see members of a breakaway NLD faction that hopes to contest the election as a new political entity.
“We will be meeting with elements of the NLD, we will be meeting with other groups as well,” he said.
“I think our desire is to have the broadest possible set of discussions with political parties inside the country and that will include parties who are more closely associated with the government as well.”
The Obama administration decided in September to pursue deeper engagement with Burma to try to spur democratic reforms, although it has no plans to lift sanctions on the country.
The United States has long voiced concerns over Burma’s rights record, and is also worried that the ruling generals are seeking to acquire nuclear technology from North Korea.