US Urges Myanmar to Support Rohingya Rights
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - US President Barack Obama urged Myanmar's president to address ethnic tensions in his country, while also discussing political reforms with the opposition leader.
The White House said Obama had separate telephone conversations on Thursday with President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, ahead of a second presidential visit to Myanmar next month.
His visit in mid-November comes amid growing US concerns about human rights abuses in Myanmar, including the jailing of journalists and alleged oppression of stateless Rohingya Muslims and other ethnic minorities caught in conflict with government troops.
Obama urged Sein to take additional steps to address ethnic tensions and support the civil and political rights of the Rohingyas.
The White House said Obama welcomed the commitment of President Thein Sein and his government to the peace process, and urged that every effort be made to conclude a national ceasefire in the short term.
Most of Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions in Rakhine state on the western coast of the predominantly Buddhist country. Almost 140,000 Rohingya remain displaced after deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.
Obama's call came just before Thein Sein and Myanmar's powerful military chief were due to hold an unprecedented high-level meeting on Friday with major political parties and ethnic minority groups as cracks widen in the fledgling democracy ahead of an election next year, Al Jazeera reported.
The talks will be the first of their kind in Myanmar and will see Suu Kyi meet the powerful armed forces chief, Senior General Min Aung Holing for the first time, talks that the Nobel laureate has sought since she became a lawmaker in 2012.