As a new relationship emerges between the US and Burma, Than Swe, Burma’s newly assigned ambassador in Washington, will emerge as a pivotal player in diplomatic affairs. A career military officer, he served in the army for 25 years, rising to the rank of colonel.
Born on June 19, 1953, Than Swe earned a BA degree from the Burma Defense Services Academy in 1975 and an MA in Defense Studies. Leaving the military in 2000, Than Swe served as director general for the Progress of Border Areas and National Races in the Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs from May 2000 to March 2008.
He served as deputy permanent representative to the United Nations from March 2008 to March 2009, when he was appointed Burmese ambassador to the UN, a post he held until his appointment as ambassador to the US.
Than Swe is intimately familiar with US-Burma relations, having served as a point man during the dialogue that led to the resumption of normal diplomatic relations over the past few months. Burma’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin said during 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 the US-Burma relationship.
He presented his credentials to President Barack Obama in August, formally reviving the top diplomatic post between the two countries. Burma had been represented by a charge d’ affairs.
He was the first person to assume the prestigious post since 2004 when Lynn Myaing served as the 17th Burmese ambassador to the US. Burma initially established diplomatic relationship with the US in 1947 when Soe Nyunt was appointed as the first Burmese ambassador.
In July, new US Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell presented his credentials to Burmese President Thein Sein in Naypyidaw, reestablishing full diplomatic relations.
Than Swe is married and has two daughters.