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Obama eyes deeper reform on historic Myanmar visit

Published on Nov 17, 2012 1:31 PM

BANGKOK (AFP) - United States President Barack Obama will endow Myanmar's startling reform drive with his newly replenished political prestige on Monday, as he makes history in a short, but hugely symbolic, visit to the country.

Thirteen days after he was re-elected, Mr Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit the formerly isolated state, hoping to spur greater reform and to highlight a rare success for his policy of engaging pariah regimes.

But his mission is not without peril: should Myanmar's new political dawn darken and conservative forces move to regain control, Mr Obama's trip could appear in hindsight as premature and invite a domestic political backlash.

Mr Obama, who first flies into Thailand on Sunday for a night, hopes to solidify the political reforms of President Thein Sein by granting the Myanmar leader his highest profile moment on the world stage since his nominally civilian government replaced outright military rule. After meeting President Thein Sein, Mr Obama will visit the rickety home of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, where his fellow Nobel peace laureate was confined for years of house arrest.

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