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Nov-07-2012 09:11printcomments

Breaking News: Obama to Visit Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi, who has ignored mass ethnic killing in Myanmar, met with Obama recently in Washington.

Suu Kyi and Obama
Photo underscores awkward relationship between Burma and the war-inclined USA. Photo:

(WASHINGTON DC) - Newly re-elected US President Barack Obama will visit Myanmar's commercial capital, Yangon later this month, a Myanmar government official said Wednesday, in the latest sign of Washington's support for reforms in the former pariah state.

"Obama will come to Yangon on November 19. He will meet with the President and Daw (honoric) Aung San Suu Kyi here," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding further details were unavailable because of security concerns.

Relations between the United States and Myanmanr have thawed significantly since President Thein Sein took the helm of a quasi-civilian regime last year and ushered in a period of sweeping reform.

Fresh from his re-election triumph, Mr Obama has a small window for foreign travel before Thanksgiving on Nov 22 and deliberations in Congress about averting a destructive budgetary arrangement known as the ''fiscal cliff''.

The White House has not confirmed any trip to Myanmar.

Mr Obama is also expected to travel to Phnom Penh to attend the East Asia summit, an annual gathering of leaders of Southeast Asian nations and regional partners including China and Russia.

"According to the plan, he will be arriving on the 18th," Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith told AFP, adding that he did not know how long Mr Obama would stay in the country. The summit ends on Nov 20.

The Obama administration has encouraged the political developments in Myanmar under the new regime that replaced half a century of military rule.

Thein Sein made a landmark trip to New York in September, becoming the first Burma leader to speak to the UN General Assembly, following a series of visits to Myanmar by US officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mrs Suu Kyi also visited the US on a historic tour that coincided with the Myanmar leader's schedule and included a meeting with Mr Obama.

''We welcome his visit. We are also glad that he won the election. He met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Washington during her visit and was very knowledgeable about Myanmar,'' Ohn Kyaing, a spokesman for the opposition leader's National League for Democracy, told AFP.

He said the party had ''heard he would come here but we did not know the date''.

``No American president has visited Burma in a long time... It's more than 50 years,'' he added, using the country's former name.

The opposition party of Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has been welcomed back into mainstream politics under the dramatic reforms, which have also included the release of hundreds of political prisoners and a series of tentative ceasefires with ethnic minority rebels.

In response to the reforms the US and other Western countries have rolled back sanctions, despite concerns about an ethnic conflict raging in northern Kachin state and a surge in communal violence in western Rakhine.

Washington lifted sanctions on American investment in Myanmar in July, enabling a major US trade delegation to visit the country.

Global corporate giants from Coca-Cola to General Electric have already begun to vie for a share of an expected economic boom in the long-isolated nation.

The US has also lifted 2007 sanctions on Thein Sein and parliament speaker Shwe Mann and announced it would ease a ban on impor

Source: Pakistan Tribune



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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.