President Obama visited the city of Yangon, Myanmar (the country formerly known as Burma) to deliver a speech commending the country’s strides towards democracy.
Instead of solely meeting with President Thein Sein in closed quarters in the capital city of Naypyitaw, President Obama addressed Sein, students, lawmakers, activists, officials and former generals at the University of Yangon. He is the first foreign leader and sitting president to meet with Sein in Myanmar’s largest city and cultural epicenter.
Citizens were pleased by both the subject of his speech as well as his choice of location for the visit. He drew applause from the crowd when he said reform cannot succeed without national reconciliation and when emphasizing the important role citizens play in a democracy.
According to USA Today, President Obama said that the United States “now has an ambassador in Rangoon, sanctions have been eased, and we will help rebuild an economy that can offer opportunity for its people, and serve as an engine of growth for the world. But this remarkable journey has just begun, and has much further to go. Reforms launched from the top of society must meet the aspirations of citizens who form its foundation. The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished — they must be strengthened; they must become a shining North Star for all this nation’s people.”