Burma or Myanmar? What should Obama call it?
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's landmark visit to Myanmar, known by the United States as Burma, brings up an unusual problem of protocol: What does he call it? If recent practice by visiting US officials is any guide, Mr Obama will sidestep the issue by using neither name on Monday when he becomes the first sitting American president to visit the country.
The former ruling junta summarily changed the name 23 years ago without consulting the people - a typically high-handed act by an unpopular regime that had gunned down hundreds of anti-government protesters the year before.
The change was opposed by democracy advocates, who stuck with "Burma". As the country has opened up politically, shifting from five decades of direct military rule, the linguistic battle lines have blurred some.
The US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand still officially refer to it as Burma. But as the relations with the reformist government of President Thein Sein have blossomed in past year and dignitaries have beaten a path to his door, they have become less dogmatic about using the old name.