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(CNN) — U.S. Senator John McCain warned Myanmar’s new military-backed government to make democratic reforms or possibly face the type of revolution that has swept through Arab nations.
“The winds of change are now blowing, and they will not be confined to the Arab world,” McCain told reporters in the former capital, Rangoon.
“Governments that shun evolutionary reforms now will eventually face revolutionary change later. This choice may be deferred. It may be delayed. But it cannot be denied.”
McCain wrapped up a two day “assessment” trip in Myanmar in which he met with senior leaders in the new government.
He said it was clear “the new government wants a better relationship with the United States” but called for “concrete actions” before the U.S. could consider lifting sanctions.
Such actions would include the unconditional release of more than 2,000 political prisoners and guarantees of safety for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she travels around the country for an upcoming political tour.
McCain, who described the Nobel Prize winner Suu Kyi as “a personal hero of mine for decades,” met with her Thursday and promised U.S. support for her efforts to bring democracy.
Suu Kyi spent most of the past 20 years under house arrest.
During his visit, the senator also met with opposition and ethnic minority leaders.
McCain, who had spent six years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, also met with recently-released political prisoners, some held for 20 years.
The longtime critic of Myanmar’s military regime had been denied visas for the past 15 years and termed the granting of his recent visa “one illustration of change.”
McCain arrived in Singapore on Friday for an annual intergovernmental conference on Asian security after his visit.