Monday, November 19, 2012

Obama's historical visit: Asia Pivot

Obama's visit to Burma sitting with president Thein Sein
After a six-hour trip, Barack Obama has met Burma's president Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, becoming the first sitting US president to visit the country. In a historic visit to Burma, U.S. President Barack Obama has acknowledged the beginning of reforms, saying the United States will support democracy efforts, economic development and efforts at national reconciliation.
In a speech at the University of Rangoon, Obama referred to a pledge he made at his presidential inauguration in 2009 to "extend a hand" to governments that ruled by fear if they are ready to "unclench their fist."

He reviewed a long history of U.S. - Burma relations, saying he came because of America's belief in human dignity. He said a dramatic transition is under way in Burma.

"Over the past year, A dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip. Under President Thein Sein, the desire for change has been met by an agenda for reform," said Obama. "A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself."

“This remarkable journey has just begun, and has much further to go," he said. "Reforms launched from the top of society must meet the aspirations of citizens who form its foundation. The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished, they must be strengthened, they must become a shining North Star for all this nation’s people."
Mr Obama is using the visit to try strike a balance between praising the Burmese government's progress in shaking off military rule and pressing for more reform.

"But we think a process of democratic and economic reform here in Myanmar that has been begun by the president is one that can lead to incredible development opportunities," he said, using the country name preferred by the government and former junta, rather than Burma, normally used in Australia and the US.
Tens of thousands of well-wishers, including children waving tiny American and Burmese flags, lined Mr Obama's route to the old parliament in the former capital, Rangoon.

Some held signs saying "We love Obama".
The so-called Asia pivot is also meant to counter China's rising influence. The US president's next stop is Cambodia for the East Asian Summit.


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