Obama arrives in Myanmar

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U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Myanmar on Monday (November 19), the first visit by a serving U.S. president to the Southeast Asian country, which is opening up after almost half a century of military rule.

His plane landed at the airport in the former capital, Yangon, where Obama, accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell, Myanmar Foreign Minister, Wunna Maung Lwin as well as other officials.

A girl in a traditional Myanmar attire offered him flowers.

Obama is due to meet President Thein Sein, who has led the political and economic reforms since taking office in March 2011, and opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the fight for democracy under the former junta.

Obama said on Sunday (November 18) that his upcoming trip to Myanmar was not an endorsement of the government, but rather an acknowledgement of the progress it has made in moving towards democracy after decades of military rule.

Some human rights groups say the visit is premature because reforms have yet to be consolidated, but the White House has said Obama would press Myanmar's reformist president, Thein Sein, both in public and in private to do more about ethnic violence and human rights abuses.

Obama will spend barely six hours in the country, also known as Burma, before flying to Cambodia for summit meetings with the leaders of other Southeast Asian states and partner countries.