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Obama to begin historic visit to Myanmar as bilateral relations improve

By Feng Yingqiu (Xinhua)

08:18, November 19, 2012

YANGON, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Newly re-elected U.S. President Barack Obama is due to begin a historic visit to Myanmar on Monday, a member nation of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN).

Obama will fly over from Thailand to Yangon for hours-long working visit before proceeding to the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Obama's trip to Myanmar will be the first ever one to the country in the history by a sitting U.S. president as bilateral relations have been warming up following eased U.S. sanctions in response to the undergoing reforms in the Southeast Asian nation.

Obama's visit also comes more than one-and-half year after the new government of Myanmar took office in March, 2011.

The highest ranking U.S. leader, who visited Myanmar in the history of Myanmar-U.S. relations, was then Vice President Richard Nixon in 1953.

Obama is scheduled to meet his Myanmar counterpart U Thein Sein and opposition leader and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, the former capital, to encourage the country's democratic reform.

Obama's tight schedule includes a public speech to Myanmar people arranged at the venue of Yangon University, once world- famous University of Rangoon historically.

U Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi's successive historic visits to the United States in September-October have opened a new chapter to bilateral ties since re-establishment of diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level on July 11 with Derek Mitchell, U. S. special representative and policy coordinator for Myanmar being assigned as the first U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar.

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