Myanmar's democracy icon and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi held talks with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Friday. The two discussed a host of issues including the present situation in the South Asian nation.
"We have great expectations and hope that she will lead this path of reconciliation and greater participatory democracy and development of her country, together with President Thein Sein of Myanmar," Ban said addressing a joint news conference with Suu Kyi at UN Headquarters.
"In that regard, I pay my great tribute to President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. They have been walking together down the path of reconciliation and political stability and democracy and human rights, and I really count on her continuing support," the UN chief said.
When asked by a reporter whether she is concerned about possibly "outshining" President Thein, Suu Kyi replied: "I don't think we should think about this in terms of personalities. If we all want to achieve genuine democracy for Burma, we have to learn to work together and not think about our impact as personalities, either in our country or in the world at large."
Suu Kyi is currently on a three-week visit to the United States, which is her first trip to the country in more than two decades. She has already held talks with President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and collected the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honor.
Suu Kyi was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008, but she could not collect it then as she had been under house-arrest for the most part of the past 20 years. She collected the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her in 1991 only in June.
During the ongoing trip, she has been urging US authorities to lift the remaining American sanctions on her country. The US Treasury on Thursday lifted sanctions on President Thein Sein and Thura Shwe Mann, the speaker of the lower house of parliament. Incidentally, President Thein Sein is due to visit the US later this month to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
Under President Thein's leadership, Myanmar, previously known as Burma, had made great strides toward democracy in recent months, including holding free elections to elect a new Parliament, freeing political prisoners and holding talks with ethnic rebel groups present in the countryside.
Since assuming power in March 2011, Thein's government has also implemented several reforms demanded by the opposition and the international community. The most notable stride made by Thein's government was the release from house-arrest of Suu Kyi, who has since been allowed to travel freely within the country and abroad.
Suu Kyi won a Parliament seat in the recent by-elections. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party boycotted the November 2010 polls, but later decided to rejoin mainstream politics and was subsequently allowed to contest the by-polls in which the party secured 40 of the 45 seats contested.
Nevertheless, the Army's proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) still dominate the 664-seat bicameral Parliament with about 80 percent seats.
Following the widely acclaimed by-elections and the recently implemented reforms, Western powers, including the United States, Britain, European Union and Australia, have softened their stand on Myanmar, easing most of the sanctions imposed on the previous military junta.
by RTT Staff Writer
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