Obama urges Myanmar leader to address rights of Rohingya Muslim minority

US President Barack Obama addresses a rally at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine on Oct 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
US President Barack Obama addresses a rally at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine on Oct 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Barack Obama urged Myanmar leader Thein Sein in a telephone call on Thursday to take additional steps to address ethnic tensions in the country and support the civil and political rights of the stateless Rohingya Muslims minority.

The White House said Obama welcomed the commitment of President Thein Sein and his government to the peace process, and urged that every effort be made to conclude a national ceasefire in the short term.

Obama also spoke with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a separate call in which they discussed the need for an inclusive process for 2015 elections, the White House said.

Obama is due to make his second presidential visit to Myanmar in mid-November to attend a pair of regional summits, amid growing US concerns about human rights abuses in the country, including the jailing of journalists and alleged oppression of Rohingyas and ethnic minorities caught in conflict with government troops.