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Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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President Obama Affirms Support for Democracy In Myanmar

U.S. President Barack Obama and opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi hold a press conference after their meeting at her residence in Yangon, November 14, 2014.

(Photo : REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE) U.S. President Barack Obama and opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi hold a press conference after their meeting at her residence in Yangon, November 14, 2014.

President Obama Friday met for a second time with Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel Peace Price winner Aung San Suu Kyi, assuring her of U.S. support for democracy in the country.

On his second leg of an eight-day Asia swing, Obama reassured Suu Kyi of continued American interest in a fair, and free, Myanmar, which has been seen backsliding lately from its transition from military dictatorship to full democracy. 

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Obama staged a glowing visit to Myanmar in 2012 as that nation's military leadership took a historic turn toward democracy. His visit helped propel Suu Kyi from prolonged house arrest to political freedom.

Meeting for the first time since the historic 2012 visit, Suu Kyi dispelled any speculation the two leaders had a rift about the speed of democratic transition sparked by previous comments in which she said the U.S. was dragging its feet on its commitment to Myanmar democracy.

Standing next to Suu Kyi at her Yangon home while delivering his remarks, Obama said a law delivered by the military junta prohibiting her from being president didn't make much sense. This was the most straightforward statement by the president on that thorny question.

The junta barred Suu Kyi from running for president because her two sons were not from Myanmar. She has criticized the law as discriminating against just one person, namely herself. Many observers agreed with that sentiment, especially in light of her sweeping victory in the 1990 presidential elections whose results were wiped out by the military.

Obama agreed with Suu Kyi, saying, "I don't understand a provision that would bar someone from being president because of who their children are," he said, adding, "that doesn't make much sense to me."

Suu Kyi denied any disagreements with U.S. leadership over the bumpy Myanmar democracy transition process. She said it could be negotiated away with the "help and understanding of our friends around the world."

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