From: Korte, Gregory [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 1:10 PM
To: Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO ; Gabriel, Brian A. EOP/WHO
Subject: Pool Report No. 1 // Aung San Suu Kyi pool spray
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi could be seen entering the West Wing at 11:19 a.m., just ahead of the scheduled 11:20 a.m. start of the meeting. The pool was called into the Oval Office at 12:27 a.m. The official schedule said Vice President Biden would also attend the bilateral, but he was not present during the pool spray.
Suu Kyi sat in a chair to Obama’s right, in front of the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. She wore a white and gold printed skirt with matching sash and a brown blouse, with a trademark yellow flower in her hair.
Both Obama and Suu Kyi made remarks. Highlights below; check against transcript.
Obama welcomed Suu Kyi to the White House, noting that it was “not her first visit to the Oval Office, but her first visit in her official capacity.” He said her position is evidence of the “remarkable progress that Burma is undergoing.”
“When I was first elected, Aung Suu was still under house arrest.” He praised the “courage, strength and resilience of the Burmese people.” But he noted that Myanmar has a “representative legislature that still has significant restrictions from the previous government.”
As a result of the “remarkable social and political transformation,” Obama said had consulted with Suu Kyi and was “now prepared to lift sanctions that we have imposed.”
“It is the right thing to do to ensure that the people of Burma see rewards for a new way of doing business.”
He said the United States would both drop the sanctions and restore Burma to the generalized system of preferences. “As we combine these two efforts, I think this will give the U.S., our businesses, our non-profit institutions, an incentive to invest.”
“I can tell you as I visited as the first U.S. president to travel there, I could see the tremendous potential about to be unleashed.” He said that potential was best represented by Suu Kyi. He encouraged Americans to visit and invest in Burma, “a beautiful country with a rich culture.”
He turned to Suu Kyi, offering “Congratulations on the progress that has been made. It is not complete.” He said no one would have predicted this visit five years ago. “It’s a good news story in an era when so often we see countries going the opposite direction.
Suu Kyi began speaking at 12:34.
“We have reached a point where, as President Obama said, people didn’t expect us to be five years ago,” she said.
She said her first priority was “national reconciliation and peace,” saying Myanmar has never seen peace in her lifetime. “There was always fighting going on in one place or another.”
“What all of us wanted was a truly democratic federal union. We are trying to do that right now.”
“Unity also means prosperity, because people fight over limited resources,” she said. “We want everybody who is a citizen of our country to be afforded the full rights of citizenship.” She said Myanmar is a very poor country with tremendous potential, and has proven that divisions can be overcome, “that you can create unity out of diversity.”
She thanked the U.S. Congress for putting pressure on Myanmar to restore human rights, but said the time had come for the U.S. to lift sanctions. She pleaded for people to visit and invest in the country. “I expect businessmen to come to our country to make profits.” She said she expected the legislature to pass a new investment law “that I hope will be very attractive to countries around the world.”
“We have a constitution that is not very democratic, because it gives the military a special place in politics.” She said she was working to change the constitution and restore the military to an “honorable” institution capable of protecting the country.
She again thanked the U.S. Congress and Obama personally for his previous visit.
As pool was being ushered out, Jeff Mason of Reuters asked Obama about the timeframe for lifting sanctions.
“Soon,” Obama said.
“For all of them?” Mason asked.
“Soon,” Obama repeated.
Pool was ushered out at 12:41 p.m. Time elapsed: 14 minutes.
White House correspondent
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