U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be making a historic trip to Myanmar next month in the first visit by a secretary of state in more than a half century.
The decision on behalf of U.S. President Barack Obama came following a conversation the president had with Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
In his statement Friday, Obama expressed that the country is showing “flickers of progress” and that the administration wanted to send Clinton to the country to explore if the U.S. can empower a positive transition.
Obama’s decision comes on the same day that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has announced that it would be registering to run in by-elections.
In 2010, the party boycotted the first elections held in the country in 20 years because Suu Kyi was banned from running due to her status as a former political prisoner.
Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest for her opposition to authoritarian rule in the country. She was finally released from house arrest last year under a new government.
The leader told journalists earlier in the week that she “deeply believed that the president (of Myanmar) also wants change.”
President Obama called on the Burmese government to take more concrete action and said, “If Burma fails to move down the path of reform, it will continue to face sanctions and isolation. But if it seizes this moment, then reconciliation can prevail, and millions of people may get the chance to live with a greater measure of freedom, prosperity and dignity.”
Obama expressed that the administration remains concerned about Burma’s political system, minority rights, and political prisoners, but added that the U.S. wanted to “seize what could be a historic opportunity for progress.”