WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to Myanmar President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in separate telephone calls on Thursday, the White House said.
Obama is due to make his second presidential visit to Myanmar in mid-November to attend a pair of regional summits, amid growing U.S. concerns about human rights abuses in Myanmar, including jailing of journalists and alleged oppression of stateless Rohingya Muslims and ethnic minorities caught in conflict with government troops.
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.
The talks will be the first of their kind in Myanmar and will see opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi meet for the first time with the powerful armed forces chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, talks that the Nobel laureate has sought since she became a lawmaker in 2012.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Sandra Maler