Siem Reap (Cambodia): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Myanmar President Thein Sein on Friday for landmark discussions days after Washington eased its sanctions on the once pariah state.

The pair held talks in the Cambodian tourist town Siem Reap on the sidelines of a US business conference, after the US on Wednesday gave the green light to firms to invest in Myanmar, including in oil and gas, in its greatest loosening of tough sanctions so far.

It is Clinton's second meeting with Thein Sein after she became the first US secretary of state to visit Myanmar in half a century during a trip to the country late last year, as reforms took hold in the long military dominated nation.

Washington has faced criticism from rights groups concerned it is moving too fast in its eagerness to cash in on Myanmar's vast business potential.

But the decision will please US firms eager not to miss out on what some economists expect to be a gold rush in the resource rich nation.

Asian firms have been doing business in Myanmar for years, while the European Union suspended most of its sanctions against the country in April.

Clinton told Thein Sein that the US wanted to encourage further reforms in the country, which has impressed the West with its release of hundreds of political prisoners and by welcoming opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party into mainstream politics.

"We want to help you keep going. We are very committed," she said.

Thein Sein hailed the US decision to ease its investment embargoes.

"I am very pleased to see our bilateral relationship improving dramatically," said the Myanmar leader, a former general who shed his army uniform when he took power as the head of a quasi civilian government last year.

The meeting, which lasted about an hour, raised a host of issues including political prisoners, environmental protections and the plight of the country's stateless Muslim Rohingya, officials said.

"They were talking seriously about how to take the country forward on its reform goals, on its investment goals," a senior State department official said.

Thein Sein on Thursday told the UN that refugee camps or deportation was the "solution" for the Rohingya, following communal violence last month in western Myanmar, in comments likely to alarm Western nations.

Left impoverished by decades of economic mismanagement and isolation under army rule, the country is seen as the next big frontier in Asia for firms wanting to take advantage of its resources, cheap labour force and strategic position between China and India.


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