Myanmar's president has begun his first visit to western Rakhine state since sectarian violence broke out there more than a year ago.

President Thein Sein's three-day trip comes amid reports Tuesday of a new spate of arson attacks around the city of Thandwe, where dozens of homes have been torched or damaged since the weekend.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation, has been grappling with Buddhist-Muslim violence that has killed hundreds of people and sent 140,000 more fleeing since June 2012, the majority of them Muslims.

A senior official in the president's office said Thein Sein arrived Tuesday in the Rakhine state capital of Sittwe and would also travel to the inland town of Mrauk-U. The official declined to be identified because he was unauthorized to speak about the trip.