On a visit to Myanmar, US President Barack Obama has criticised the rules that prevent pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president of her country.
Washington has pressed for more change in the nation also known as Burma, where political and economic reforms launched two years ago seem to have stalled.
After a warm embrace the two Nobel laureates got down to business.
Suu Kyi is barred from running in next year’s presidential election because her two sons are foreign nationals.
“The Constitutional amendment process needs to reflect inclusion rather than exclusion. For example, I don’t understand the provision which would bar somebody from running for president because of who their children are. That doesn’t make much sense to me,” Obama said.
“Now we are asking for Constitution amendments, not because we are trying to win a case, but because we think that certain amendments are necessary if this country is to be a truly functioning democracy in line with the will of the people,” added Aung San Suu Kyi.
The US has urged Myanmar to allow minority Rohingya Muslims to become citizens and scrap plans to send them to detention camps if they don’t identify themselves as Bengalis, a term they say wrongly implies they are immigrants.
Tens of thousands were displaced in clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in western Myanmar 2012.
Obama said: “We’re paying attention at how religion minorities are treated in this country. I recognise the complexity of the situation in the Rakhine State. On the other hand I’m a firm believer that any legitimate government has to be based on the rule of law and on the recognition that all people are equal under the law.”
Asked about the Rohingyas’ plight, Suu Kyi said she was against violence of any kind and that a solution must come through the rule of law.