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Burma president pardons political prisoners ahead of US visit

Burma's president has pardoned political prisoners just ahead of a state visit to the United States, maintaining the momentum of warming ties between the countries.

Ye Tang, a member of the government's political prisoner scrutiny committee, said 20 prisoners had been freed so far Friday, with more releases expected. The exact number to be released was unclear.

President Thein Sein will visit the White House on Monday, the first state visit by a Burma leader in almost 47 years.

The U.S. applied sanctions against Burma's previous military regime for its poor human rights record. Thein Sein has implemented several reforms since being elected in 2010, including freeing hundreds of political prisoners. The U.S. in turn eased most sanctions. Last November, Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Burma.