Next month, Hillary Clinton will become the first American secretary of state to visit Burma in more than 50 years. President Obama, who is on a diplomatic mission to southeast Asia, announced the historic visit today, citing "flickers of progress in these last several weeks" in the long-shunned nation, the AP reports. "Of course there’s far more to be done," he said, but we want to "make it clear that if Burma continues to travel down the road of democratic reform, it can forge a new relationship with the United States of America."
Officials say Obama spoke with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi last night and reviewed the progress that has been made, including the release of political prisoners, reports the New York Times. Shortly after the Clinton visit was announced, Suu Kyi announced that she and her National League for Democracy party would rejoin the country's political system, following reforms initiated by the military-backed government. Burma's current government, which took office following the November 2010 elections, has shown a willingness to deal with Suu Kyi, notes the AP. Suu Kyi's party won elections in 1990 but the ruling military junta ignored the result and she spent most of the next 20 years under house arrest.