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Obama's visit to Myanmar marks 'new chapter' in US-Myanmar relations

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Obama's Southeast Asian trip, less than two weeks after his re-election, was aimed at showing how serious he is about shifting the US strategic focus eastwards as America winds down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The so-called "Asia pivot" is also meant to counter China's rising influence.

The trip to Myanmar highlighted what the White House has touted as a major foreign policy achievement – its success in pushing the country's generals to enact changes that have unfolded with surprising speed over the past year.

Tens of thousands of well-wishers, including children waving American and Burmese flags, lined Obama's route from the airport after his arrival, cheering him as he went by.

'Icon of democracy'

Obama met fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, who led the struggle against military rule and is now a lawmaker, at the lakeside home where she spent years under house arrest.

Addressing reporters afterwards, Suu Kyi thanked Obama for supporting the political reform process. But, speaking so softly she was barely audible at times, she cautioned that the most difficult time was "when we think that success is in sight."

"Then we have to be very careful that we are not lured by a mirage of success and that we are working towards genuine success for our people," she said.

Obama recalled Suu Kyi's years of captivity and said she was "an icon of democracy who has inspired people not just in this country but around the world."

"Today marks the next step in a new chapter between the United States and Burma," he said, using the country name that she prefers. Before he left, the two embraced and he kissed her on the cheek.

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