Monday, May 4, 2015Monday, May 4, 2015

Obama to meet Suu Kyi, Myanmar president in Yangon

Published on Nov 9, 2012 9:45 AM
In this Wednesday, Sept 19, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. -- PHOTO: AP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama will meet democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein this month on a historic first visit to Myanmar by a sitting United States (US) leader in a boost to a political reform drive.

The White House also said that Mr Obama would visit Thailand and attend the East Asia summit in Cambodia on the trip beginning on Nov 17, which will mark his return to the world stage following his re-election on Tuesday.

During a stay of a few hours in Myanmar, Mr Obama will deepen his administration's support for the startling reform process launched by Mr Thein Sein that has seen Ms Suu Kyi, once a prisoner in her home, become a member of parliament.

The President is also expected to make a speech to civil society groups.

In Thailand, a US treaty ally, Mr Obama will meet Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and mark 180 years of diplomatic relations with the South-east Asian kingdom.

The President, who presided over a rebalancing of US diplomacy toward Asia, is expected to hold bilateral talks with regional leaders in Cambodia, the White House said in a statement.

A White House statement said Mr Obama will use the brief trip to "discuss a broad range of issues, including economic prosperity and job creation through increased trade and partnerships, energy and security cooperation, human rights, shared values and other issues of regional and global concern."

Mr Obama is expected to turn increasingly to foreign affairs in his second White House term, which begins in January, after devoting months this year to his re-election effort and campaign against Republican Mitt Romney.

Relations between the US and Myanmar have thawed significantly since Mr 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."