Clinton hails 'milestone' meeting with Burma leader

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (l) and Burmese President Thein Sein shake hands before a meeting at Le Meridien Hotel
Image caption Mrs Clinton said she was excited at what lies ahead for Burma

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met Burma's President Thein Sein at a business forum in Cambodia.

Top US business leaders including executives from Coca Cola and Ford were among 200 business leaders at the conference in Siem Reap.

The talks follow the easing of restrictions on US firms investing in Burma.

Ms Clinton said this week represented a "milestone" in relations between the two countries.

She is leading a high-level business delegation at the Asia regional meetings in Cambodia. The group is also expected to visit the Burmese capital Nay Pyi Taw and Rangoon.

"We're excited by what lies ahead and we're very supportive of President Thein Sein's economic and political reforms," Ms Clinton said.

In response, the Burmese president said he was "very pleased" that the US-Burma relationship was "improving dramatically", adding: "We are pleased that President Obama eased the sanctions".

'Left behind'

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama announced that US companies will now be allowed to "responsibly do business in Burma".

But he said that entities belonging to the army or ministry of defence would not be covered by the move.

Thein Sein said Burma was hoping to attract more investment into the country.

"Myanmar has been left behind in development for the past 60 years," he said.

According to a report by the Associated Press, citing an anonymous US official, Thein Sein pledged to the US secretary of state that he would manage his country's expected new wealth in a responsible fashion and share it among its people.

As well as US investment in the country, Ms Clinton reportedly pressed Burma's leader on human rights issues, asking about the fate of a Muslim minority group, the Rohingyas.

She said that the US considers them "internally displaced people" and, according to the official quoted by AP, Thein Sein described the situation as "very dangerous".

Washington has welcomed reforms in Burma but has also warned that the moves do not signify that the US is ''satisfied that reforms are complete or irreversible''.

Since 2010, Burma's government has seen a transition from authoritarian rule to a more inclusive system.

The European Union, Australia and other countries have also eased sanctions against the country.

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