WASHINGTON (AP) — America's warming relations with one-time adversary Myanmar should demonstrate to North Korea the benefits of opening up to the world, a top White House official said Thursday.
National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon was speaking ahead of a historic visit to Myanmar next week by President Barack Obama, the first by a sitting U.S. president. Donilon said the trip is intended to "lock in" and encourage further democratic reforms.
The U.S. has ended diplomatic isolation of Myanmar and has suspended tough economic sanctions as the country also known as Burma has shifted from five decades of oppressive military rule. Its government has reconciled with its famed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner but now a lawmaker.
Donilon said those reforms, and U.S. support of them, has allowed Myanmar to re-enter the international community, with the economic opportunities that confers.
"That is a path that if North Korea would address the nuclear issue would be available to them. We have said that from the outset. It's an important example for them to contemplate," Donilon told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
But he said the U.S. sees no sign Pyongyang has decided to go the same way. He said it needs to demonstrate serious intent on ending its nuclear weapons program.
Obama will first travel to Thailand and after Myanmar, attend a summit of East Asian leaders in Cambodia to show his continued focus on the region despite instability in the Middle East and acute political challenges at home in tackling the national debt.