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.

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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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