Obama meets Myanmar president on historic visit

2012-11-19 04:57:26 GMT2012-11-19 12:57:26(Beijing Time)  SINA.com
Obama held talks with Thein Sein at Yangon's regional parliament buildingObama held talks with Thein Sein at Yangon's regional parliament building
Obama held talks with Aung San Suu KyiObama held talks with Aung San Suu Kyi
Hillary Clinton hugs Aung San Suu KyiHillary Clinton hugs Aung San Suu Kyi
U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour the Shwedagon Pagoda in YangonU.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon
People holding a poster with portraits of U.S. President Barack Obama, left, Myanmar President Thein Sein, center, and Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as they wait to welcome the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama at Yangon International Airport Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, in Yangon, Myanmar. AP PhotoPeople holding a poster with portraits of U.S. President Barack Obama, left, Myanmar President Thein Sein, center, and Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as they wait to welcome the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama at Yangon International Airport Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, in Yangon, Myanmar. AP Photo

US President Barack Obama met Myanmar leader Thein Sein on Monday during a landmark visit to Yangon aimed at encouraging political reforms.

Obama held talks with Thein Sein at Yangon's regional parliament building.

Obama meets Suu Kyi on landmark Myanmar visit

US President Barack Obama met Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday during a historic visit to Yangon aimed at encouraging political reforms.

Obama held talks with his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner at the lakeside mansion where she languished for years under house arrest for decades.

Obama announces aid to Myanmar

US President Barack Obama announced a US$170 million aid pledge to Myanmar to mark his historic visit to the country on Monday.

Obama unveiled the development aid to coincide with the formal opening of a US Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in Myanmar, which was suspended for years.

The money, spread over a two-year period, will target projects in civil society designed to improve education.

Timeline of US “re-engagement” with Myanmar

US President Barack Obama arrived Monday in Myanmar, the culmination of a re-engagement policy with the former military-ruled country that was announced in 2009. Here is a chronology of the key events in the warming of relations between U.S. and Myanmar:

2009

September: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the US will re-engage with Myanmar, arguing sanctions alone had not engendered reform by the country. 

November 15: Barack Obama meets then prime minister Thein Sein at a Southeast Asian regional forum in Singapore, in a sign of Washington's change of tack.

2010 

November 7:  Myanmar held first elections in two decades, but the poll is denounced as a sham by the West 

November 13:  Aung San Suu Kyi is freed after a total of 15 years under house arrest 

2011 

March 30:  Military government is dissolved and General Than Shwe, the strongman leader since 1992, steps down, handing power to a nominally-civilian government with Thein Sein as president. The West again casts doubt on the depth of reform 

August 19: Suu Kyi meets Thein Sein. 

October 12: New government announces first in a series of amnesties for political prisoners. 

November 30: Hillary Clinton visits Myanmar in the first trip by a US Secretary of State for more than half a century 

2012 

April 1: Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy sweeps by-elections which see the opposition leader voted in to parliament 

April 17: Washington lifts some sanctions on financial services 

June: Violence breaks out between Buddhists and the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority in western Myanmar. Two waves of unrest, the second in October, leave at least 180 dead and 110,000 displaced. The US calls for calm 

July 11: Derek Mitchell takes office as US ambassador to Myanmar, the first in 22 years. The U.S. lifts a ban on investment in the country, including in the sometimes controversial oil and gas sector 

September 19: Suu Kyi is received in the Oval Office of the White House during a historic tour of the U.S., while Washington takes Thein Sein off a blacklist ahead of his visit to New York 

September 27: Thein Sein makes an unprecedented public tribute to Suu Kyi's "efforts for democracy" in an address to the UN General Assembly 

November 16: US lifts ban on imports from Myanmar with the exception of precious stones 

November 19: Obama becomes the first sitting US president to visit Myanmar

US shuttling through China's "soft belly"

By Li Hongmei, Special to Sina English

Before Barack Obama was sworn in for his new term, he and his powerful political colleagues Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta descended upon Asia-Pacific, shuttling through China’s “soft belly”.

Starting the weekend, Asia-Pacific will be witnessing an unprecedented rise in the U.S. diplomatic activity in the region which until lately was a "black spot" in Washington's foreign policy but has acquired new significance after the administration announced the "strategic pivot" towards Asia.

The diplomatic offensive begins with Washington’s triumvirate - President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta - visiting Cambodia. The agenda includes both bilateral talks with the respective counterparts and the participation in the East Asia summit in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh.

Later, the US President and his men (as well as the woman) will also visit Thailand and Myanmar.

What makes the tour historic is not just the fact that never before had any US President visit Cambodia or Myanmar, but the attempt to establish substantial presence in what has for a long time been regarded as China's “diplomatic domain.” Both Myanmar and Cambodia are looked upon as China's close friends in the region.

But times are changing, and the "strategic pivot" announced late last year presupposes that the U.S. is going to exert efforts in order to not only limit China's expansion in the fields it is aiming to conquer, but also to press China out of the areas which it has long regarded as its “backyard.” (full story)

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Editor: Mei Jingya
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