Weather Alerts 1 View »

Obama extending 'hand of friendship' to Myanmar

Photo: Image by FILE PHOTO

Obama extending 'hand of friendship' to Myanmar

CREATED Nov 19, 2012

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) -- President Barack Obama says he is making his historic visit to Myanmar to "extend the hand of friendship" to a nation that is moving from persecution to peace. But he says the country's democratic transition has just begun and must not be allowed to slide.

Obama was on his way from Thailand to Myanmar, also known as Burma, on Monday morning local time. The White House released excerpts of a speech he was giving later in the day to university students.

Obama is the first U.S. president to visit the country.

He says that in the last year and a half, Myanmar has loosened the grip of dictatorship, freed hundreds of political prisoners and ushered in a civilian government. Obama said such "flickers of progress" must not be extinguished.

################

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- President Barack Obama is encouraging Myanmar to continue its transition to democracy, pledging that the U.S. will be friends with any nation that respects its people's rights and international law.

Obama says Myanmar, whose repressive military rule led to its shunning by the world, can now show the world the "power of a new beginning" by continuing to open up and contributing to a world that is more peaceful, more prosperous, more just and more free.

It's the steps that the country, also known as Burma, already has taken that led to Monday's historic visit by Obama. He is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Myanmar.

In a speech at the University of Yangon, Obama acknowledged the country's shortcomings but said: "The United States of America is with you."