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Obama's Planned Visit to Burma a Presidential First

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(AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool) (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tours Burmese Buddhist temple during her visit in Dec. 2011.

President Barack Obama will be the first U.S. president to visit the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, also known as Burma. The visit will come two weeks after Obama was re-elected and will be a key stop on a trip to Asia Nov. 17 – 20. According to the Associated Press, Obama will meet with President Thein Sein and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the nation late last year and the Obama administration announced in July it would be easing sanctions on Burma in light of recent democratic reforms:

“President Thein Sein, Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma continue to make significant progress along the path to democracy, and the government has continued to make important economic and political reforms,” the White House said in a statement. “Easing sanctions is a strong signal of our support for reform, and will provide immediate incentives for reformers and significant benefits to the people of Burma.”

In addition to the symbolic importance of Obama’s visit to Burma, his trip will also mark the first time a U.S. president has visited Cambodia as well.

In a statement, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama intended to “speak to civil society to encourage Burma’s ongoing democratic transition.”

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

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