US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced further easing of sanctions on Myanmar, in an apparent nod to reforms in the former military state.

Washington is poised to lift a long-standing import ban on Myanmar, following President Barack Obama’s decision to suspend bans on American companies investing in the country. Mrs. Clinton and President Thein Sein met Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“In recognition of the continued progress toward reform and in response to requests from both the government and the opposition, the United States is taking the next step in normalizing our commercial relations,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We hope this will provide more opportunities for your people to sell their goods into our market”. AP quoted Mr. Thein Sein as saying, “We are very grateful for the actions of the United States”.

Mr. Thein Sein has been driving the once military-junta ruled state towards democracy through political and economic reforms, including pardons to over 500 political prisoners. The US dropped Mr. Thein Sein from its list of sanctioned individuals ahead of his visit. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi lauded the development but said that there is still a lot to be done.