Myanmar leader making landmark White House visit

FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2011 file photo, President Barack Obama, left, stands next to Myanmar President Thein Sein during a group photo session at the East Asia Summit in Nusa Dua, on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Thein Sein’s historic White House visit next week is the culmination of U.S. outreach to a former pariah regime. That’s been based on a principle of taking “action for action” by deepening ties in response to democratic reforms. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2011 file photo, President Barack Obama, left, stands next to Myanmar President Thein Sein during a group photo session at the East Asia Summit in Nusa Dua, on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Thein Sein’s historic White House visit next week is the culmination of U.S. outreach to a former pariah regime. That’s been based on a principle of taking “action for action” by deepening ties in response to democratic reforms. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

(AP) — Former general Thein Sein on Monday becomes the first Myanmar president to be welcomed to the White House in almost 47 years, crowning a dramatic diplomatic rehabilitation for his nation after years of international isolation.

But activists are angry about President Barack Obama hosting Thein Sein, and lawmakers are wary. The Myanmar leader has led the shift from decades of direct military rule, but has stalled on some reform commitments and failed to stop bloody outbursts of ethnic violence.

Thein Sein previously served in a repressive junta, and his meetings at the White House and Congress would have been all-but-impossible before he took the helm of a nominally civilian government in 2011. His name was only deleted from a blacklist barring travel to the U.S. last September.

He arrived in Washington Saturday, six months after Obama made history with an unprecedented U.S. presidential visit to the country also known as Burma. The administration's outreach to Myanmar's generals has provided an important incentive for the military to loosen controls on citizens and reduce dependence on China.

Myanmar has been rewarded by relaxation of tough economic sanctions, and Thein Sein will be addressing U.S. businessmen keen to capitalize on the opening of one of Asia's few untapped markets.

"President Thein Sein's visit underscores President Obama's commitment to supporting and assisting those governments that make the important decision to embrace reform," the White House said in its announcement of Monday's visit.

It will be the first by a Myanmar leader since a September 1966 visit by Ne Win, an independence hero-turned dictator, who began the nation's descent from regional rice bowl to economic basket case. Thein Sein visited New York last September for the U.N. General Assembly but didn't come to Washington.

The U.S. last month announced it is considering duty-free access for Myanmar to U.S. markets, and there could be progress Monday toward a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement.

The most significant outcome of Thein Sein's trip could be a symbolic one. Obama is expected to use "Myanmar" — the country name adopted by the junta in 1989 — when he meets Thein Sein. However, the U.S. will keep using "Burma" in official documents.

Thein Sein will be accorded the protocol due to a foreign president, yet his Washington welcome will pale next to that granted last September to Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who met Obama and was presented by Congress with the highest civilian award it can bestow.

Human rights activists and Myanmar campaigners have sharply criticized the administration for inviting Thein Sein, arguing it sends the wrong message and wastes leverage to press for further democratic change. The administration says it is important to signal U.S. support for his reform agenda, likely still opposed by military hardliners.

Ahead of the trip, Myanmar released at least 19 political prisoners in what has become a pattern for amnesties that coincide with high-profile international meetings as a way of highlighting the government's benevolent policies. Right groups say at least 160 political detainees are still held.

The government has permitted the International Committee of the Red Cross access to its notorious prisons for the first time in seven years. But hasn't allowed adequate humanitarian access to conflict zones where tens of thousands have been displaced. Authorities have failed to stop, and may have abetted in some cases, an explosion in communal violence that has killed hundreds and led to segregation of Muslim communities.

The U.S. Campaign for Burma said Thein Sein's trip follows a troubling downward trend in Myanmar, and that "instead of honoring an abusive leader" the U.S. should tie its concessions to conditions.

____

Associated Press writer Aye Aye Win in Yangon, Myanmar, contributed to this report.

Associated Press

Authors: TSX Today

What is S&P/TSX Composite Index?

S&P/TSX Composite Index

The TSX stock exchange defines an index as a statistical measure of the state of the stock market, based on the performance of certain stocks. The performance of the index is typically viewed as a broad indicator of the direction of the economy. Originally known as the TSE 300 the composite index was created in 1977, with a base level of 1000 as of 1975. Through the years the index consisted of a sample of 300 companies, though the companies that comprised the index varied from year to year. Stocks were dropped when they no longer met exchange requirements for size and liquidity.

Effective May 1st, 2002 the index has been managed by Standard & Poor's Corp. of New York. The name was changed from the TSE 300 to the S&P/TSX Composite Index. Along with the S&P branding came new rules. Tougher criteria for meeting size and liquidity standards were imposed and there is now no fixed number of companies in the index. Since May 2002 the number of companies has dropped from 300 to 212 as of November of 2003.

SEO for Canada

seo canada

SEO in Vancouver is the provider of SEO Services for the webpage TSX-Today. Our webpage gets thousands of visits. Thanks to SEOinVancouver TSX-Today now ranks on Page 1 in Both Bing and Yahoo for the super competitive keyword TSX. If you are looking for SEO Canada or SEO Vancouver, please visit SEO in Vancouver. Simply the BEST for SEO Canada!

Search