Burma’s reforms lead to Secretary Clinton’s historic visit

December 5, 2011

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(AP/Saul Loeb)
In this much-publicized photo, Hillary Clinton and Aung San Suu Kyi both wear white for a dinner in Rangoon.

Until last week, no U.S. secretary of state had visited Burma - considered one of the most repressive regimes in the world - since 1955. Secretary Hillary Clinton's historic visit changed all that, marking a turning point in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Burma.

During her visit, Secretary Clinton met with the country's new president, Thein Sein. He’s the man behind a liberalization and reform process that’s gone faster than anyone expected. Clinton also met famed opposition leader and democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. After spending 15 years under house arrest, Su Kyi plans to re-enter Burmese politics and run for parliament in the next elections.

Maureen Aung Thwin, director of the Burma Project at the Open Society Foundation, provides analysis on what improved relations with the U.S. might mean for democracy-starved Burma.