Minzayar / Reuters
A woman sews the edges of newly made U.S flags at a shop in Yangon on Nov. 16. U.S. President Barack Obama leaves on Saturday for a trip to Asia that will include a historic stop in Myanmar.
AP reports -- White House officials cautioned Thursday that President Barack Obama's historic trip to Myanmar, a onetime U.S. adversary, should not be viewed as a "victory celebration."
Obama aides, seeking to assuage critics who say such a visit to the former pariah state is premature, said urgent action was still needed in Myanmar, most notably freeing political prisoners and ending ethnic tension in the western state of Rakhine.
But Danny Russel, Obama's top Asia adviser, said the president's personal appeal to leaders in the nation also known as Burma would be an effective tool in pressing for further democratic reforms.
"This is a moment when we believe the Burmese leaders have put their feet on the right path and that it's critical to us that we not miss the moment to influence them to keep going," Russel said.
Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
A store manager stands surrounded by American flags in a flag shop as the city gets prepares for the forthcoming visit of US President Barack Obama, on Nov. 16, in Yangon, Myanmar. Barack Obama will become the first US President to visit Myanmar during his four-day tour of Southeast Asia that will also include visits to Thailand and Cambodia.