Barack Obama met with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi at her home in Myanmar on Monday, lauding her “courage and determination” during a historic visit to the once repressive and secretive country.

The first sitting U.S. president to visit Myanmar, Obama urged its leaders, who have embarked on a series of far-reaching political and economic reforms since 2011, not to extinguish the “flickers of progress that we have seen.”

Obama said that his visit to the lakeside villa where the pro-democracy icon spent years under house arrest marked a new chapter between the two countries.

“Here, through so many difficult years, is where she has displayed such unbreakable courage and determination,” Obama told reporters, while standing side by side with his fellow Nobel peace laureate. “It is here where she showed that human freedom and human dignity cannot be denied.”

The country, which is also known as Burma, was ruled by military leaders until early 2011 and for decades was politically and economically cut off from the rest of the world.

Suu Kyi repeated her warnings that Burma’s opening up would be difficult.

“The most difficult time in any transition is when we think success is in sight, then we have to be very careful that we are not lured by a mirage of success and that we are working toward its genuine success for our people and friendship between our two countries,” she said.

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Before meeting Suu Kyi, Obama spent an hour with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, whose reform drive has seen the release of hundreds of political prisoners and steps to open up the country’s economy.

Obama said the democratic and economic reforms begun by the president could lead to “incredible development opportunities.” Thein Sein, who wore a long purple sarong and white shirt, told Obama he was committed to strengthening bilateral relations.

In a departure from usual protocol, Obama referred to the country as Myanmar. The name Myanmar was introduced by the former military regime 23 years ago and is preferred by the country’s current leaders, but the Obama administration has largely stuck to British colonial name of Burma that is also used by Suu Kyi and democracy activists.

As well as meeting Thein Sein and Suu Kyi, Obama delivered a speech at the University of Yangon, where he urged the country to continue with its “remarkable journey.”

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