Obama Praises Reforms in Historic Burma Visit
Thousands line streets as he meets Suu Kyi
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2012 2:38 AM CST
Updated Nov 19, 2012 5:25 AM CST
The crowd cheers as President Obama arrives at opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's residence in Myanmar today.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – President Obama praised progress in Burma and promised American help if reforms continue on his visit to the country today, the first by an American president. He met with pro-democracy leader and President Thein Sein before giving a televised speech at the University of Yangon, the AP reports. "Instead of being repressed, the right of people to assemble together must now be fully respected," Obama said in speech excerpts released by the White House. "Instead of being stifled, the veil of media censorship must continue to be lifted. As you take these steps, you can draw on your progress."

Tens of thousands of people, many of them waving American flags, lined the streets of Rangoon as Obama arrived in the city, the BBC reports. He met Suu Kyi in the compound where she spent many years under house arrest. "We are confident that this support will continue through the difficult years that lie ahead," she said of the help from America with Obama at her side. "The most difficult time in any transition is when you think that success is in sight. We have to be very careful that we're not lured by a mirage of success."

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Nov 20, 2012 2:43 AM CST
Obama is doing exactly what we want him to do: Encourage democracy throughout the world without forcing down anyone's throats. As an earlier commenter noted, Myanmar is a much better name for the country, one of the only good things the military dictatorship did. Going there and supporting Su Kyi is just about the best thing he could do for the country, she is equivalent to Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and the only one who can pull the country together and create the stable institutions that democracy needs to flourish. Her story is a heroic one, and I wish it would get more coverage around the world. We just gained a huge ally in Southeast Asia, and at very little cost to us. I wish more decisions like his visit could be so easy.
Nov 19, 2012 1:33 PM CST
0bama goes to yet another country and bows to its leader, calling the country "Myanmar", when its official name according to the US Government is "Burma"! Haven't we had enough of this un-American president?
Nov 19, 2012 11:16 AM CST
I realize that country has serious issues. But the only time Clinton and Obama seem to stand up for "democracy" in other countries is when the Muslims benefit. Seems like the war between the Buddhists and the Muslims was the catalyst for their intervention. When are they going to address the ongoing horrific genocide of Jews, Christians, and even homosexuals in the Islamist countries? Guess the Muslims don't like being on the receiving end of unjust treatment but support it when they're the ones dishing it out.