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US President Barack Obama To Visit Burma
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20261408
Source Date: Friday, November 09, 2012
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: Myanmar
Created: Nov 08, 2012

Fresh from his election win, Barack Obama will this month become the first US president to visit Burma, the White House says.

He will meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein.

It is part of a three-leg tour from 17 to 20 November that will also take in Thailand and Cambodia.

The government of Burma has begun implementing economic, political and other reforms, a process the Obama administration sought to encourage.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was previously the most senior US official to go to Burma when she visited in December 2011.

'Democratic transition'

Mr Obama's Burma stop is part of a trip built around the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.

In a statement, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Mr Obama intended to "speak to civil society to encourage Burma's ongoing democratic transition".

The BBC's David Bamford in London says the trip - Mr Obama's first foreign initiative since his re-election this week - reflects the importance that the US has placed on normalising relations with Burma.

This process has moved forward relatively swiftly, our correspondent adds, and it represents an opportunity for the US to have a greater stake in the region and so at least partly counter the dominant influence of China.

The US has appointed a full ambassador to Burma and suspended sanctions to reward the country for releasing political prisoners and for the election of Nobel laureate Ms Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

America is also set to ease its import ban on goods from Burma, a key part of remaining US sanctions.

Human rights groups are likely to criticise Mr Obama's visit as premature, given that the ruling government has failed to prevent outbreaks of communal violence in the west of the country.

Reforms have been taking place in Burma since elections in November 2010 saw military rule replaced with a military backed nominally civilian government.

Since the country began its reforms, the international community has increasingly looked to invest in Burma, which the International Monetary Fund says is one of the poorest countries in Asia.
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