TODAY | November 19, 2012
>>> the president is on an historic tour of southeast asia . nbc's white house correspondent chuck todd has the latest from yangon, myanmar . good evening where you are.
>> reporter: willie, just a few short years ago that this country was essentially isolated from the world community . now, president obama makes this historic trip becoming the first u.s. president to visit myanmar , the country formerly known as burma. a rousing welcome for the president, a sea of people eager to catch a glimpse of the motorcade, uniform schoolchildren waving u.s. and myanmar flags for miles. a red carpet welcome. mr. obama made an unannounced stop at myanmar 's famous pagoda, a 2,000-year-old holy site, the center of burmese buddhism . there a monk led him in a ceremonial pouring of water over the head of a buddhist stature.
>> i was dousing the flames.
>> reporter: then it was on to aung san suu kyi 's house where the nobel peace prize winner and democracy activist lived under house arrest for years.
>> i would like to say how happy i am to receive president obama in my country and in my house. later the president formally addressed the people of myanmar in a speech at yangon university where he justified this trip to this still not yet free country .
>> when i took office as president i sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear. i said in my inauguration address we will extend a hand if you're unwilling to clench your first. under president thein sein the desire for change has been met by an agenda for reform, so today i've come to keep my promise and extend the hand of friendship.
>> reporter: and the president didn't just come here to give a speech. he also brought some aid money. some $170 million. not a large sum when it comes to foreign aid , but more will come, the president and the obama administration promised, if more reforms happen here in myanmar . willie.
>> chuck todd traveling with the president in myanmar . chuck, thanks.