Barack Hussein Obama became the first US president to visit Burma when Air Force One touched down just after 10 am at Rangoon airport on Monday morning.
Accompanied by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the US president was greeted on arrival by Ambassador Derek Mitchell and Burma’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin.
Some 3,000 schoolchildren, many of whom wore traditional Burmese costumes and carried flowers, were on hand to welcome Obama. Some had been waiting at the airport since 7 am.
Obama was immediately driven to the Rangoon Regional Parliament Building to meet Burmese President Thein Sein who had dashed back from an ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh the night before to greet him.
Thein Sein reportedly told the US president: “We [Burma] are moving forward.”
Despite the fanfare surrounding the Obama visit, the White House has said that the trip should not be regarded as a "victory celebration" but as an opportunity to press for urgent action on issues such as the freeing of political prisoners and ending ethnic conflict in Burma.
In the afternoon, Obama is scheduled to meet with Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her residence on University Avenue overlooking Inya Lake.
The president will then be ushered a few hundred meters to the US Embassy, also on University Avenue, where he will meet Embassy officials over lunch.
Later in the afternoon, Obama is due to deliver a speech at Rangoon University before he departs for Phnom Penh to attend the ASEAN summit.
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