Myanmar’s president will soon make the first state visit to the United States by a leader of the Southeast Asian nation in almost half a century, state television announced today.
It did not say exactly when former general Thein Sein — whose quasi-civilian government has won international plaudits for its political reforms since taking power two years ago — would travel to Washington.
The trip, which was first reported by AFP earlier this month, will be the first to Washington by a head of the country since military leader Ne Win was invited in 1966 by president Lyndon Johnson.
Thein Sein in September flew to New York, where he addressed the UN General Assembly, following a series of visits to Myanmar by US officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The former junta premier surprised many skeptics by launching a raft of reforms after taking office in 2011 in the wake of controversial elections, freeing hundreds of political prisoners and relaxing censorship.
He has allowed opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi to take a seat in parliament, a dramatic turnaround for the Nobel Peace laureate, who spent most of the previous two decades under house arrest.
In response, the West has begun to roll back most sanctions imposed against the former junta, which ruled for almost half a century.
Global corporate giants from Coca-Cola to General Electric have already begun to vie for a share of an expected economic boom in the long-isolated nation.
Obama paid his own visit to Myanmar in November, when he praised the nation for its transition but called for progress on reforms, particularly in the treatment of ethnic minorities.