Obama: Myanmar's 'journey has just begun'

Obama: Myanmar's 'journey has just begun'

US President Barack Obama will use a historic speech in Yangon on Monday to hail "the flickers of progress" in Myanmar, the White House said.

"Today, I have come to keep my promise, and extend the hand of friendship," Obama will say, according to excerpts of his address. "But this remarkable journey has just begun, and has much further to go."

Obama will be the first serving US president to set foot in the country, in the starkest illustration yet of its emergence from a long period of isolation.

He is expected to praise President Thein Sein for ending a dark era of junta rule but also to prod the former general to go much further towards genuine democracy.

In a nod to a recent wave of deadly sectarian violence in western Rakhine state, Obama will urge Myanmar to "draw on diversity as a strength, not a weakness".

"Every nation struggles to define citizenship -- America has had great debates about these issues, and they continue to this day.

"But certain principles are universal -- the right of people to live without the threat that their families may be harmed or their homes may be burned simply because of who they are or where they come from," he will say.

Two major outbreaks of violence between Muslims and Buddhists in Rakhine since June have left 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.

Most of the displaced were minority Muslim Rohingya, who have faced decades of discrimination and are denied citizenship.