OTTAWA, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Nobel Peace Prize laureates called on the presidents of the United States and Myanmar to make personal commitments to end conflict in Rakhine state.
U.S. President Barack Obama met Monday with leaders in Myanmar, a first for a sitting president, during his tour of Asian countries.
Washington last week eased trade restrictions against a country known also as Burma. The country has received international praise for political reforms that began with general elections in 2010. Human rights issues and communal violence have remained problematic, however.
A group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian activist who shared last year's prize, said despite reforms the country has a "daunting task" of working on regional conflict resolution.
"We call for the creation of a reconciliation process led by local community and religious elders," she said in a letter from Canada, "and ultimately your personal commitment to bring an end to the escalating and systematic violence in Rakhine state."
Myanmar declared a state of emergency for Rakhine following the latest outbreak of violence, which left at least 89 people dead. At least 75,000 people were displaced internally following violence between Muslim and Buddhists communities in Rakhine.