Obama first US head to visit Myanmar; lauds progress news
20 November 2012

Barack Obama became the first sitting American president to visit Myanmar, former Burma, on Monday, and tens of thousands of people poured on to the streets of Rangoon, also known as Yangon, to welcome him.

Obama called on other Asian nations to follow the example of Burma's "remarkable journey" towards democracy during his six-hour visit to the country that has for long been politically isolated.

Obama met the president, Thein Sein, a former army general who has driven through many recent reforms. He then visited the veteran pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi at the colonial-era stucco house where she has spent much of the past 20 years under house arrest.

He then gave a televised speech to an audience of more than a thousand students, opposition politicians, campaigners, ethnic leaders, NGO workers and cultural and religious figures at Rangoon University. Burma could serve as "a test of whether a country can transition to a better place", he said.

"I shared with President Thein Sein our belief that the process of reform that he is taking is one that will move this country forward," Obama told reporters, with Thein Sein at his side.

"I recognize that this is just the first steps on what will be a long journey, but we think that a process of democratic reform and economic reform here in Myanmar ... can lead to incredible development opportunities here," Obama said.
Thein Sein, speaking in Burmese with an interpreter translating his remarks, responded that the two sides would move forward, "based on mutual trust, respect and understanding".

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Obama first US head to visit Myanmar; lauds progress