Barack Obama on Monday became the first US president to visit Myanmar, showing other Asian nations – such as North Korea – that America is willing to reach out to help reforms.
President Obama used his trip to Myanmar Monday to signal – not just to the former pariah state but to all of Asia – that the United States will extend a hand of friendship and economic cooperation to all countries that live peacefully and respect the rights of their citizens.
By Monday evening Mr. Obama was in Phnom Penh, where he was to dine with Hun Sen, the prime minister of Cambodia, another Southeast Asian country where human rights experts see worrisome limits to basic human rights.
But in Myanmar, Obama delivered a nationally televised speech in which he – as the first US president to visit the longtime military-ruled state, also known as Burma – invoked one of the themes of his 2009 inaugural address. He offered America’s hand to adversaries willing to “unclench their fist.”