Recently reelected U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Myanmar, making him the first American chief executive to visit the Southeast Asian country.
In taking his first foreign trip since the election, Obama will also make stops in Thailand and Cambodia during his Nov. 17-20 itinerary.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has engineered a remarkable transition to semi-democracy after 50 years of repressive military rule. The reforms have prompted some Western nations, as well as Japan and South Korea, to drop a number of sanctions against Burma.
Continue Reading Below
Obama is scheduled to meet with Burmese president Thein Sein as well as pro-democracy activist Aung Sang Suu Kyi, who now sits in parliament as leader of the opposition.
Other prominent Western leaders, including U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron, have already journeyed to the former pariah state.
Obama is likely to urge the Burmese to continue making more reforms on the path toward democracy. He may also encourage Burma to open up more to U.S. and other Western investors, as an effort to steer the country away from Chinese influence.
However, Obama's impending visit may be marred by continuing ethnic violence in Burma's far western state, where clashes between minority Rohingya Muslims and majority Buddhists have raged for months, killing scores of people on both sides and displacing thousands from their homes.
U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley told Reuters of other concerns.
"Too many political prisoners remain locked up, ethnic violence must be stopped, and not all necessary political reforms have been put in place," he said.