Obama to meet Suu Kyi, Myanmar president in Yangon

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 09 2012 07:27 AM | Updated as of Nov 09 2012 03:28 PM

WASHINGTON - 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 US leader in a boost to a political reform drive.

The White House also said that Obama would visit Thailand and attend the East Asia summit in Cambodia on the trip beginning on November 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, Obama will deepen his administration's support for the startling reform process launched by Thein Sein that has seen 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, Obama will meet Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and mark 180 years of diplomatic relations with the Southeast 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 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."

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 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, Obama has a small window for foreign travel before Thanksgiving on November 22 and deliberations in Congress about averting a destructive budgetary arrangement known as the "fiscal cliff."

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