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Myanmar leader releases prisoners on eve of US visit

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YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s president pardoned at least 20 political prisoners on Friday, just ahead of a historic state visit to the United States that will highlight the two sides’ improved relations brought about the country’s democratic reforms.

Ye Aung, a member of the government’s political prisoner scrutiny committee, said 20 prisoners had been freed so far Friday, with more releases expected.

President Thein Sein will visit the White House on Monday, the first state visit by a Myanmar leader in almost 47 years. The United States applied sanctions against the previous military regime for its poor human rights record. After Sein, elected in 2010, implemented several reforms, the sanctions were eased.

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