NAYPYITAW, Myanmar - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Myanmar President Thein Sein on Monday to offer international help for reform in the long-isolated state and will later become the first foreign dignitary to address its fledgling parliament.

On his first visit to Myanmar since its year-old, quasi-civilian government embarked on a wave of political and economic liberalization, Ban described Thein Sein, a former top general, as a "key driver" of the reforms and said he would urge Western powers to ease sanctions further.

The new government, comprising mostly former generals in the military junta that ruled for half a century, has stunned the world with the pace of its reforms in a way that Ban said was impressive but still a work in progress.

"We need to support Myanmar so it doesn't slide back down the scale," Ban told reporters in the capital, Naypyitaw, on Sunday, the first day of a three-day visit.

Missing from parliament on Monday will be Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her opposition National League for Democracy party, which won April 1 by-elections by a landslide.

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