President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the troubled Southeast Asian nation of Burma Monday, calling on the country's leaders to continue reforms that have, in less than a year, set it on a path toward respectability in the international community.

"Reforms launched from the top of society must meet the aspirations of citizens who form its foundation," Mr. Obama said in a speech at Yangon University in the capital, Rangoon. "The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished - they must become a shining North Star for all this nation's people."