Burmese President Visits the United States
- Burmese President Thein Sein has begun a historic official visit to the United States, becoming the first leader of his country to do so in almost 50 years. until just 2 years ago, Burma was an international pariah, with Sein on a US blacklist that would have prevented his entry to the United States. Despite presiding over the start of a democratic transformation of his country, the Burmese President reiterated that the army, which has ruled the country since 1962, “will always have a special place” in government. In a symbolic step, US President Obama referred to the country as Myanmar rather than Burma in his joint press conference with Sein. The US has long resisted using this name, as it has faced pressure from human rights and opposition groups who have held that it is the name used by the military junta and is not inclusive of all the country’s ethnic groups.
- Meanwhile, US businesses gave the Burmese President a warm welcome at a gala dinner hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce sponsored by top American corporations such as GE, Ford, Chevron, ExxonMobil and others, according to Foreign Policy. At the dinner, Sein said, “We want to lay the foundation for a robust middle class”, and invited US businesses to invest in Myanmar.
Update from the Syrian Civil War
- As the Syrian army, backed by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, reclaimed the key rebel held city of Qusayr near the Lebanese border on Sunday, US President Barack Obama faces increased pressure to find a way to alter the course of events in this long drawn-out civil war. The army’s takeover the city, according to analysts, has the potential to transform Syria’s conflict, as this victory gives the regime “a corridor of territory connecting Damascus to Syria’s pro-Assad coastline and to Lebanese territory controlled by Iran-backed Hezbollah”.