News / Asia

President Obama to Make Historic Burma Visit

President Barack Obama meets with Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office of the White House, Sept. 19, 2012.
President Barack Obama meets with Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office of the White House, Sept. 19, 2012.
Kent Klein
President Barack Obama is set to visit Burma this month, as part of a four-day trip to Southeast Asia. The president will also stop in Thailand and Cambodia.

Obama will be the first U.S. president to visit Burma and Cambodia.  The trip is scheduled for November 17-20.

Administration officials say that while in Rangoon, the president will meet with Burmese President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Priscilla Clapp, the former charge d’affaire at the U.S. embassy in Rangoon, told VOA’s Burmese Service Thursday that the president’s visit will help advance efforts toward democracy in Burma.
 
Recent High-Ranking Visits to Burma

  • U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited in April. Praising President Thein Sein, he urged further rollback of Western sanctions
  • EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton opened a new EU office in Burma on April 28 after the bloc suspended sanctions
  • British PM David Cameron visited in April, met with President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited in November
“That will further consolidate the [bilateral] relationship, and I think it will be very good because President Obama will then have personal experience in Myanmar and we’ll see a strengthening of our current policy,” Clapp said.
 
A White House statement says Obama hopes “to encourage Burma’s ongoing democratic transition” during his visit.

U.S.-Burma relations have improved greatly since a nominally civilian government took power last year, ending five decades of military rule, and instituting some democratic reforms and freeing many political prisoners.

Opposition to visit

But the Washington-based human rights group, the U.S. Campaign for Burma, is asking Obama not to go to Rangoon.  The organization’s Jennifer Quigley says the reforms made so far in Burma are superficial.

“There are a lot of really serious outstanding human rights issues that warrant the president taking a deeper look at fixing those problems and seeing resolutions to those issues before he goes and gives the sort of stamp of approval to President Thein Sein,” Quigley said.

The group wants Obama to visit parts of Burma where, it says, religious and ethnic minorities are still being oppressed.

The Burmese military continues an offensive against ethnic Kachin minorities in the north, and unrest in Rakhine state has killed numerous Rohingya Muslims.

Other human rights organizations support President Obama's visit, adding that they hope it will be accompanied by a continued emphasis on human rights in Burma.

Other Stops on Trip

Obama will also be the first U.S. president to visit Phnom Penh, where he will attend the East Asia Summit and meet with the leaders of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

In Bangkok, the president will meet with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.  The two leaders will mark 180 years of diplomatic relations between the United States and Thailand.

Obama is expected to talk with Asian leaders about economic and trade issues, energy and security cooperation as well as human rights and other regional and global issues at the ASEAN summit.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rich Mookerdum from: Australia/Myanmar
November 09, 2012 12:59 AM
It’s good to see the international community, including the US, now adopt a pragmatic approach to Myanmar, and clawing back the no-win *Burma policy* from self-seeking human rights groups.

Clearly, exile dissidents and activists had failed to realise that HR is also about jobs, healthcare and education. There is far too much knowledge today about the small South East Asian nation for lies to prevail.

History shows that the best check on despotism is a thriving business class. This often means democracy.

There is also the theory that democracy, as people (in the West) understand it, arrives when nations reach a certain income level . . . Political pluralism seems to be linked to economic sophistication.

So, we should be optimistic about pluralism in Burma.

The US President’s visit, no doubt, will further strengthen Myanmar’s road to democracy, and sideline yesterday’s extreme Left.

Welcome to the Land of the Golden Pagodas, Mr Obama.

-- Burmese-born journalist


by: Jack from: Louisville
November 08, 2012 6:53 PM
He is probably going to get some pointers from the dictators there on how to best become the tyrant he aspires to be.


by: Bill from: Montana
November 08, 2012 6:21 PM
Why the h--- would the President of the United States leave on a trip when he has the people that voted him in staying in shelters and dying from cold on the east coast.with no real sense of when they will get relief.


by: vageorge from: Wise, VA
November 08, 2012 6:20 PM
I do pray that they keep obama forever


by: Norm Campbell from: 39554
November 08, 2012 6:10 PM
Well Now - He's already taking trips , same ob BS for
four more years - Money has no end for him !


by: HY41 from: Utah
November 08, 2012 6:03 PM
Oh great. This is really useful for the American interests. Just another O vacation at tax payer expense. He just doesn't get it does he?


by: Zee
November 08, 2012 5:44 PM
Of course! Now that the election is over, it's back to VACATION and SPEND, VACATION and SPEND! That's all Obummer does!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid