News / Asia

    Obama in Myanmar for ASEAN Meetings

    ASEAN Holds 25th Summit in Myanmar’s Capitali
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    November 12, 2014 1:21 PM
    The 25th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is underway. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, that the summit opened with the host’s expressions of concern about unfulfilled goals.

    President Barack Obama has arrived in Myanmar, also known as Burma, where regional leaders have opened the annual summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

    Obama arrived in Myanmar's capital, Naypyitaw, Wednesday evening as the local magazine Irawaddy published an interview in which the U.S. leader said his hosts have made progress on some political and economic reforms, but also have gone backwards in some areas.

    Other U.S. officials have echoed those views in recent weeks, and Obama is expected to raise those concerns during talks this week with President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

    • President Barack Obama and Myanmar President Thein Sein, second from left, pose during the East Asia Summit family photo at the Myanmar International Convention Center, Nov. 12, 2014, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.
    • President Barack Obama is greeted upon his arrival on Air Force One at Naypyitaw International Airport, Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Nov. 12, 2014.
    • Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit at Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Nov. 12, 2014.
    • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (5th from left), prepares to pose for a group photo with leaders of ASEAN during the 12th ASEAN Summit at Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Nov. 12, 2014.
    • A worker pulls a cable at an intersection close to Myanmar International Convention Center, the venue of the ASEAN Summit in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Nov. 11, 2014.
    • Myanmar farmers spread paddy, or unmilled rice, for ventilation, close to the Myanmar International Convention Center, the venue of the 25th ASEAN Summit in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Nov. 11, 2014.
    • President Barack Obama and U.S. Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, leave the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, Nov. 12, 2014.


    Obama will first attend the East Asia Summit, beginning Thursday, which is a broader gathering of the 10 ASEAN countries plus eight other nations, including the U.S., China, Russia and India.

    The ASEAN Summit opened with the host’s expressions of concern about unfulfilled goals and with the anthem of the organization - an unfamiliar song to which few of the leaders and Southeast Asian diplomats in attendance could sing along.

    That reflects the current dilemma of ASEAN’s ten members. Some 48 years after its formation, the organization is still trying to define its goals and agree on harmonious policies for a diverse community of more than 600 million people.

    The summit’s host, Myanmar’s president, made note of this in his opening speech.

    Thein Sein cautioned that one year before the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community, which is supposed to create a single market, “challenges remain in implementing the remaining 20 percent of the targets and addressing the issues that will emerge in the post-2015 ASEAN Community.”

    The president also stated ASEAN “needs to play a greater role in the international arena by taking a more united stand in addressing issues of common concern and interest.”

    That was interpreted, in part, as referencing the frustration among some states with the slow pace of finalizing a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

    The Philippines and Vietnam, in particular, have raised strong concern about maritime standoffs in the disputed waters involving Chinese vessels.

    The ASEAN meeting will be followed Thursday by the ninth East Asia Summit.

     


    Steve Herman

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Babuji from: Mandalay, Burma
    November 12, 2014 11:17 PM
    Obama must inform that the world expects Myanmar authority to respect it's minorities or else!
    In Response

    by: Lin Htet from: Yangon
    November 13, 2014 11:28 AM
    What else ???dont try 2 spread falsehood ,either I myself or majoritynever discriminate a person for color of his/her skin

    by: Thet from: Singapore
    November 12, 2014 7:48 PM
    He must comment on Myanmar. Because he is world leader and can help to Myanmar.

    by: 1stmihican from: USA
    November 12, 2014 10:59 AM
    President Obama should concentrate his effort in foreign relationship and stay away from commenting on the internal affairs of Myanmar.
    In Response

    by: kgyi from: myanmar
    November 12, 2014 12:38 PM
    Yes, that's what we are expecting.

    by: Richard Wangcho from: Burma
    November 12, 2014 10:54 AM
    I believe the visiting US President Barack Obama can persuade the host leaders to open free and fair election in which every citizen can participate.The Myanmar leaders who come from military background ate afraid of possible retaliation from people whom they have jailed or tortured.Countless citizens have died in their bloody hands.
    In Response

    by: NAY from: Yangon
    November 13, 2014 11:47 PM
    I agree that, we want the country leader by the election of all people not by army.Why Obama didn't criticize on that issue related with 2015 election. We,, people are still so suffering under this junta and previous junta.

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