The US administration has shifted his stance on the Myanmar government's actions against the Rohingya Muslims in the country, terming its actions "ethnic cleansing" in a statement Wednesday.
"The situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
Tillerson blamed the Burmese military and security forces as well as local vigilantes for what he called "horrendous atrocities" that have caused more than 600,000 Rohingya to flee Burma's western Rakhine state for the safety of neighboring Bangladesh.
"The United States will also pursue accountability through US law, including possible targeted sanctions," he added, suggesting sanctions might be directed against specific Burmese officials.
"These abuses by some among the Burmese military, security forces, and local vigilantes have caused tremendous suffering. ... After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya," he said.
The US continues to support a credible, independent investigation to further determine all facts on the ground to aid in these processes of accountability, he said.
"We have supported constructive action on the Rakhine crisis at the UN Security Council and in the UN General Assembly?s Third Committee. The United States will also pursue accountability under US law, including possible targeted sanctions," Tillerson said.
"Our first priority is to relieve the intolerable suffering faced by so many. In response to the dire situation," he said.
Last week, Tillerson announced an additional USD 47 million in humanitarian assistance for those affected by the Rakhine State crisis, bringing the total amount spent in response to this crisis to more than USD 87 million since August of this year.
More than 600,000 Rohingya from Myanmar's Rakhine State has fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, creating one of the world?s most dire refugee crisis.
US lawmakers and human rights advocates had called for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to act on the recommendation of the State Department and declare the situation ethnic cleansing.
OneIndia News (with agency inputs)