YANGON  - A key US senator on Sunday said the United States was “pleased with the progress” of Myanmar’s reforms but urged the nominally-civilian regime to ensure upcoming by-elections are “free and fair”.

Following an hour-long meeting with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her Yangon home, John McCain said there remains “a great deal to be done” in the nation, which has recently begun to emerge from the shadow of military rule.

His visit, the latest in a flurry of international diplomatic advances since the new leadership embarked on a series of reforms, comes as Western powers have indicated a willingness to review strict sanctions against the country. McCain told reporters that he had urged President Thein Sein to continue in the right direction at a meeting in the capital Naypyidaw on Sunday morning, but had added the US does not “expect miracles”. “We made it very clear that we are pleased with the progress that has been made but we said there are a number of issues that need to be addressed including the rule of law, including ethnic conflicts and of course progress towards free and fair elections,” he said. The senator said he had pressed Thein Sein to allow international observers to monitor by-elections on April 1, but had received no commitment from the president, a former junta general who took power in March.