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Obama meets Myanmar's president

| Monday, May 20, 2013, 9:57 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Obama welcomed Myanmar's president to the White House for the first time in nearly 50 years on Monday, hailing the Southeast Asian nation's progress on democratic reforms but emphasizing that much work remains to be done.

After meeting privately with President Thein Sein in the Oval Office, Obama said Myanmar must release more political prisoners and take steps to end the ethnic violence that has left tens of thousands of Muslims displaced.

“This is a long journey, and there is still much more to be done,” Obama said. “The displacement of people, the violence directed towards them, needs to stop.”

The meeting was part of of the Obama administration's ongoing efforts to normalize relations with Myanmar, also known as Burma, encouraging the repressive and long-isolated country to pursue democratic reforms.

Thein Sein's visit, the first by a Myanmarese leader since 1966, was made seven months after Obama made a historic trip to the country last fall, visiting Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a gesture aimed at showing the administration's support for the Myanmarese government's reform efforts, Obama departed from official State Department policy and referred repeatedly to the country as “Myanmar.”

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