White House Press Pool – off to Cambodia!

Subject: Pool Report #10

 


Pool Report #10

Air Force One was wheels up from Yangon International Airport at 3.38 pm local time, a frenetic six hours after the president landed.

After the embassy meet and greet which was closed press, POTUS took a short motorcade to the Yangon (formerly Rangoon) University, to give the major speech of this trip to Southeast Asia. Huge crowds gathered again at the gates of the University, which has been decaying and closed for years as it has been a frequent catalyst for unrest against the prevailing repressive regimes in Burma/Myanmar, including famous uprisings in 1962 and 1988.

The outside walls of the lecture hall where the president gave his remarks were stained black, and though there had been obvious attempts to clean up the shabby campus, for instance, painting red and white stripes on the curbs, the air of decrepitude was not tough to spot.

Inside the hall, around 1500 people, according to university authorities, including students, academics, political activists and high profile members of the US community here waited for the president to speak, in a stifling warm atmosphere.

Secretary Clinton sat at the front with Aung San Suu Kyi, US ambassador Derek Mitchell and Assistant Secretary of state Kurt Campbell sat to either side.

The speech was open press and the White House distributed remarks.

As soon as the speech was over, the president boarded the motorcade back to the airport, with crowds now more sparse than his arrival, but still large, as people waved and smiled and made eye contact with people in the buses.

The president chatted with Mitchell for a few moments and then walked up the steps side by side with Clinton, and they both turned and waved again, before disappearing inside the plane.

Next stop, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where communications will hopefully be easier.

Stephen Collinson
AFP White House Correspondent,

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