Obama on Burma: A New Beginning
25 January 2012: Delivering his annual State of the Union Address to a joint sitting of Congress on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama said “A new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope.”
Obama made reference to Burma in the broader context of US foreign policy in Asia and the Pacific saying that the United States has ‘made it clear that it is a Pacific power.’
The latest positive remark on Burma follows a number of reforms recently introduced by the nominally civilian government of President Thein Sein, which have received rare praise from Western countries.
Obama’s brief reference to Burma in his State of the Union Address also signals the US intention to further engage the Southeast Asian nation that has recently emerged from decades of isolation.
In response to the reforms introduced by President Thein Sein, the US has restored full diplomatic relations with Naypyidaw by exchanging Ambassadors. The European Union and Australia have also eased travel sanctions on some of the top leadership of the new Burmese government.
But critics have warned Western governments not to concede too much to the Burmese government by prematurely easing existing actions.