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U.S. To Lift Economic Sanctions Against Myanmar

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

President Obama said today he is prepared to lift the last remaining U.S. economic sanctions on Myanmar. That would allow the once-isolated country to integrate more fully with the global economy. Obama announced the move after a White House meeting with the de facto leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: President Obama says while Myanmar's transformation from dictatorship to democracy is not complete, reforms have come more quickly than many people expected. One big sign of that was the woman sitting beside Obama in the Oval Office. Aung San Suu Kyi was still a prisoner of house arrest when he came into office. Today she's an elected leader herself. Obama wants to encourage continued reform by lifting sanctions and restoring Myanmar's favorable trading status.

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This will give the United States - our businesses, our nonprofit institutions - greater incentive to invest and participate in what we hope will be an increasingly democratic and prosperous partner for us in the region.

HORSLEY: Some human rights watchdogs see the reward for Myanmar as premature, pointing to the country's ongoing mistreatment of ethnic and religious minorities. But Suu Kyi endorsed the lifting of sanctions, saying a growing economy will help to spur further progress.

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AUNG SAN SUU KYI: Unity also needs prosperity because people, when they have to fight over limited resources, forget that standing together is important.

HORSLEY: The White House praised Suu Kyi for enlisting former U.N. leader Kofi Annan to help bring an end to violence in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine. Obama, who was the first U.S. president to travel to Myanmar, encouraged other Americans to visit as well. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.