Nay Pyi Taw: As Manmohan Singh arrived here on Sunday for the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Myanmar in 25 years, it marked another milestone in this country's steady march out of decades of diplomatic isolation and military rule even as key questions remain about the sustainability of the political reform process.

Ever since President Thein Sein, a former military General now heading a nominally civilian government, assumed office in March last year, he has surprised cynics by initiating a slew of political and economic reforms seeking to end Myanmar's international pariah status.

He freed more than 500 political prisoners, eased media censorship, restored workers' right to strike and allowed the National League for Democracy led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to take part in Parliamentary by-elections in April this year.

Singh is the latest in the galaxy of foreign leaders to travel to Myanmar since the political reforms were set in motion over the past one year.

Among the other dignitaries who had visited Myanmar since early this year are US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister David Cameron, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Ministers of Malaysia and Bangladesh.

US President Barack Obama has led world leaders in describing Myanmar's journey from military dictatorship to a fledgling democracy as a "flicker of progress" and opening a window of opportunity for the economic resurgence of a resource-rich but impoverished country.


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