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Obama extending 'hand of friendship' to Myanmar

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) - President Barack Obama says he is making his historic visit to Myanmar to "extend the hand of friendship" to a nation that is moving from persecution to peace. But he says the country's democratic transition has just begun and must not be allowed to slide.

Obama was on his way from Thailand to Myanmar, also known as Burma, on Monday morning local time. The White House released excerpts of a speech he was giving later in the day to university students.

Obama is the first U.S. president to visit the country.

He says that in the last year and a half, Myanmar has loosened the grip of dictatorship, freed hundreds of political prisoners and ushered in a civilian government. Obama said such "flickers of progress" must not be extinguished.


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