Monday, November 19, 2012

Historic Visit To Burma: President Obama Meets With Aung San Suu Kyi

Making the first trip by a sitting US president to Burma on Monday, President Obama arrived at the home of opposition leader and member of Parliament Aung San Suu Kyi house at 12:15 PM local time.  A huge cheering crowd holding banners was gathered just beyond the gates of the Nobel Laureate's home in Rangoon, and held back by a large security presence.

 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was also on hand for the meeting, and the President's entourage included foreign policy advisors Kurt Campbell, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, Danny Russell, and Tom Donilon.  The President's visit to Burma lasted just about six hours, and included a previously unscheduled stop at a Buddhist monastery, a closed-press meeting with President U Thein Sein, and a speech at the University of Yangon, regarded by aides as the centerpiece of his visit to the  country.

The President and Suu Kyi held a joint news conference after the meeting, from the steps of Suu Kyi's residence (above).  She visited the President at the White House in September.

The White House readout of the meeting:

"President Obama met today with Burmese Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and expressed his admiration for her courage, determination and personal sacrifice in championing democracy and human rights over the years.  The President welcomed Burma’s democratic transition and the recent progress made by Aung San Suu Kyi, as leader of the National League for Democracy Party, working together with President Thein Sein.  The President reaffirmed the determination of the United States to support their sustained efforts to promote political and economic reforms and to ensure full protection of the fundamental rights of the Burmese people.  The President expressed his conviction that the ongoing process of reconciliation and reform offers the people of that nation the opportunity to take charge of their destiny and to shape a more peaceful, free, and prosperous future."

*Pool photos