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Obama opens landmark visit to Myanmar


U.S. President Barack Obama, second left, and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, second right, arrive for an official dinner at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — President Barack Obama is opening his historic trip to Myanmar, becoming the first U.S. leader to visit the once-pariah nation.

Air Force One touched down in Yangon Monday morning. The president will meet with Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein and the country’s revered democracy advocate, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Obama will close his visit to Myanmar with a speech at Rangoon University, where he will praise the country’s progress toward democracy but urge further reforms.

Obama has led efforts to reestablish ties with Myanmar following its move toward democracy following a half-century of military rule.

Some human rights groups, however, have criticized Obama’s visit as a premature reward for a country that still holds political prisoners and is struggling to stem ethnic violence.

Associated Press

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