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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.