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Myanmar or Burma? Obama calls it both on visit

Monday 19 Nov 2012 9:48 p.m.

US President Barack Obama (R) waves with Aung San Suu Kyi (Reuters)

US President Barack Obama (R) waves with Aung San Suu Kyi (Reuters)

Officially at least, America still calls this Southeast Asian nation Burma, the favoured appellation of dissidents and activists-in-exile who opposed the former junta's move to summarily change its name 23 years ago.

During an historic visit Monday, President Barack Obama called Burma what the government and many other people have been calling it for years: Myanmar.

Whether slip of the tongue or intentional remark, that single word was noted and warmly welcomed by top government officials.

Burma presidential adviser Ko Ko Hlaing called it an "acknowledgement of Myanmar's government," which is undergoing a democratic transition.

US officials could not immediately be reached for comment on whether Washington's policy would change on the issue.

Obama's aides had said he would likely avoid mentioning either name, but he used both during visit.


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