Barack Obama hailed Myanmar's shift to democracy and urged more steps to increase freedom after a meeting with democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, during the first visit to the former military-ruled country by a U.S. president.
"Over the last several decades, our two countries became strangers," he said in a speech at Yangon University in the nation's former capital. "But today, I can tell you that we always remained hopeful about you ??- the people of this country. You gave us hope. And we bore witness to your courage."
The U.S. relaxed sanctions on Myanmar this year after President Thein Sein engaged with political opponents and eased media restrictions following his party's victory in a 2010 election that ended five decades of direct military rule. Obama's visit also reflects a legacy-building goal for a president about to enter a second term whose early efforts at engagement and democratization have yielded mixed results.
Left, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state, wave as they arrive at Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar, on Nov. 19, 2012.