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Obama visit seen as boost to Myanmar democracy

Obama-mania is in the air in Myanmar as the country eagerly awaits his historic visit on Monday - the first by a sitting U.S. president in the once-reclusive country. Myanmar's semi-civilian government has introduced sweeping political and economic reforms over the past year. Many hope Obama's visit will reinforce the process. This shop owner says she's very happy because more businessmen are likely to invest in the country after the visit. Obama is due to meet President Thein Sein at the Yangon State Government Office, away from capital Naypidaw. He will also meet opposition leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi at her Yangon home, where she was held under house arrest for nearly two decades - a highly significant move according to one analyst. SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR AT CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY THITINAN PONGSUDHIRAK: "The fact that he is going to Yangon instead of Naypyidaw, or not including Naypyidaw says something. This is a support more for Aung San Suu Kyi than Thein Sein. But certainly, overall support for Myanmar's democratic transition." The U.S. eased tough sanctions on Myanmar this year in recognition of the reforms and the visit could also herald a new era for U.S. business interests. SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR AT CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY THITINAN PONGSUDHIRAK: "This is a catch-up time for the U.S., and especially for U.S. businesses. I think the president's visit will be utilised by the private sector of the Americans to try to pursue their economic and commercial interest." Obama will address the Myanmar public here at Yangon university as part of his Southeast Asian trip, which will also take in Thailand and Cambodia.

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