US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visited Burma this week, marking the first high-level visit to Myanmar in half a century. She met with the country's new president, Thein Sein, as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Partly because the military government has recently launched a series of reforms (including a promise to release 6,300 prisoners, including political prisoners, in October), Suu Kyi will participate in next year's elections, after her party boycotted last year's. Her National League for Democracy (NLD), will compete for 48 vacant parliamentary seats in the election.
Critics, however, remain wary of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and its election tactics, and urge foreign governments to pay close attention to Burmese politics for the next critical year before rewarding the military junta for its new political and economic policies.