US President Barack Obama is opening his historic trip to Myanmar, becoming the first U.S. leader to visit the long-isolated nation.

Air Force One touched down in Yangon Monday morning. The President will meet with Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein and the country’s revered democracy advocate, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mr Obama will close his visit to Myanmar with a speech at Rangoon University, where he will praise the country’s progress toward democracy but urge further reforms.

“Instead of being repressed, the right of people to assemble together must now be fully respected,” the President said in speech excerpts released by the White House. “Instead of being stifled, the veil of media censorship must continue to be lifted. As you take these steps, you can draw on your progress.”

Mr Obama has led efforts to re-establish ties with Myanmar following its move toward democracy.

Some human rights groups, however, have criticised Mr Obama’s visit as a premature reward for a country that still holds political prisoners and is struggling to stem ethnic violence.

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