Obama in Cambodia after rousing Myanmar welcome

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 19 2012 6:45 a.m. MST

Rhodes said Obama was moved the visit with Suu Kyi at her home, and was pleased to see on prominent display a stuffed replica of the president's dog Bo in the house. Obama gave Suu Kyi the stuffed animal when she visited Washington earlier this year.

Crowds swelled at every intersection in Yangon, yelling affectionately for both Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"You are the legend hero of our world," one banner read.

Obama spoke at a university that was once the center of government opposition, and his message was as much a call for Myanmar to continue in its promising steps as it was a tribute to democracy in general. He held up the United States as an example of its triumph and its imperfections.

Coinciding with the president's visit, the government of Myanmar announced further human rights steps to review prisoner cases and de-escalate conflicts in ethnic regions of the country.

But Obama urged even more, calling for a government where, as he put it, "those in power must accept constraints."

"The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished," Obama said in the address televised to the nation.

Rhodes said the president was moved by the throngs of people who lined the streets to greet him. The president made one unscheduled stop, at the Shwedagon Pagoda. After seeing the pagoda as Air Force One approached Yangon, then seeing the outpouring of support from people who worship the site, Obama personally decided to make the unscheduled stop, Rhodes said.

As Obama arrived in Cambodia, he was dogged by concerns from human rights groups that have cast Hun Sen as a violent authoritarian and voiced apprehension that Obama's visit will be perceived inside Cambodia as validation of the prime minister's regime.

Still, many Cambodians credit Hun Sen with helping the country emerge from the horrors of the 1970s Khmer Rouge reign, when systematic genocide by the communist regime left 1.7 million dead. Vietnam invaded and ousted that regime in 1979. By 1985, Hun Sen had become prime minister.

Kuhnhenn reported from Yangon, Myanmar.

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