President Obama made the trek to the country of Burma Monday (Nov. 19), becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so. Obama, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, came to the South-Asian country armed with a message of hope.
Cloaked in isolation, Myanmar—also known as Burma—has undergone a swift political metamorphosis since 2010, but continues to be crippled by unrest, spawning religious violence. Army rulers feared that the commander in chief’s visit was an attempt at an invasion, but he had different intentions. “I shared with President Thein Sein our belief that the process of reform that he is taking is one that will move this country forward,” the president told reporters.
Upon the arrival into the country, which falls between China and India, Obama was greeted by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and President Thein Sein, whose mission has been reform, since taking office in March 2011. Supporters also lined the capital city of Yangon in anticipation of the visit. “I recognize that this is just the first steps on what will be a long journey, but we think that a process of democratic reform and economic reform here in Myanmar…can lead to incredible development opportunities here,” the president added.
A self-proclaimed “Pacific President” given the Indonesian heritage in his family, and growing up in Hawaii, during the six-hour trip, the POTUS toured holy sites, and interacted with activist, before ending with a speech at the University of Yangon.
The visit was the second stop on a three-day tour of Asia which started in Thailand Sunday (Nov. 18), and comes as the House is working to reach an agreement before the impending fiscal cliff deadline.
Obama ended his Asia trip by traveling to Cambodia for the East Asia Summit. See photos from his visit below.
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