Obama praises Myanmar President, but concerned over communal violence

US President Barack Obama praised the leadership of his Myanmar counterpart Thein Sein for successfully leading his country towards democracy.

Updated: May 21, 2013, 09:08 AM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama praised the leadership of his Myanmar counterpart Thein Sein for successfully leading his country towards democracy and economic reform, but expressed concern over continuing communal violence in parts of South East Asian nation.

On becoming the first leader of his country in almost 50 years to visit the White House, Obama said the President of Myanmar has made "genuine efforts" to resolve longstanding ethnic conflicts within the country and has recognised the need to establish laws that respect the rights of the people of Myanmar.

"As a consequence of these changes in policy inside of Myanmar, the United States has been able to relax sanctions that had been placed on Myanmar and many countries around the world have followed suit," Obama told reporters with Thein Sein sitting by his side in the Oval Office on Monday.

Sein is the first President of Myanmar to meet the US President in the Oval Office of the White House in 50 years, during which Myanmar had to face a series of tough economic sanctions because of the military rule and grave violations of human rights.

Referring to his conversation with Sein, Obama said there is still much work to be done in Myanmar.

"During our discussions, President Sein shared with me the fact -- the manner in which he intends to continue to move forward on releasing more political prisoners, making sure that the government of Myanmar institutionalises some of the political reforms that have already taken place, how rule of law is codified so that it continues into the future," Obama said.

Adding that the process whereby these ethnic conflicts that have existed are resolved not simply by a ceasefire but an actual incorporation of all these communities into the political process.

Obama said he also shared with Thein Sein his deep concern about communal violence that has been directed at Muslim communities inside of Myanmar.

"The displacement of people, the violence directed towards them needs to stop, and we are prepared to work in any ways that we can with both the government of Myanmar and the international community to assure that people are getting the help that they need but, more importantly, that their rights and their dignity is recognised over the long term," he said.

In his remarks before the White House press following his meeting with Obama, Sein said that now Myanmar, has started to practice democratic system, they can say that both the countries have similar political system.