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article imageAung San Suu Kyi visits India after 40 years

By Raluca Besliu     Nov 14, 2012 in World
Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Prize laureate, started on Tuesday a six-day visit to India, during which she will meet key Indian leaders and reunite with former colleagues and friends in Delhi, where she studied in her youth.
This is her first visit in almost 40 years to Burma’s neighboring country. She had lived and studied in India for several years, while her mother had acted as Burma’s envoy to India.
Today, Suu Kyi met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. During their meeting, she emphasized her desire to see tighter relations between their two countries.
Mr. Singh has already conducted a visit to Burma earlier this year, which was similarly aimed at strengthening the political and economic ties between India and Burma. One of India’s key strategic interests regarding Burma was to create the Trilateral Highway, which would link it to both Burma and Thailand. Burma also possesses untapped oil and gas resources, much needed in supporting India’s rapidly growing economy.
Later on today, Suu Kyi also held the Nehru Memorial Lecture commemorating the birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister. Suu Kyi’s father had in fact been a friend of Mr. Nehru. Suu Kyi herself is a recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1992, which she was honored with while she was still living under house arrest.
During her lecture, attended by prominent political figures, such as Sonia Gandhi, the Congress Party President, and Hamid Ansari, India’s Vice-President, the Burmese pro-democracy activist mentioned her sadness regarding India’s decision to engage the Burmese military junta during the 1990s, after Burma’ neighbor had initially showing support for the Burmese pro-democratic movement. She nevertheless asked the Indian people to stand by the Burmese people in their renewed effort to achieve democracy.
On Friday, Suu Kyi is scheduled to visit the women’s college that she attended in Delhi and to discuss with current professors and students. Subsequently, she will visit The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in Gurgaon and then go to Bangalore and Andhra Pradesh in southern India to survey their rural development and women’s empowerment programs.
Suu Kyi’s visit to India comes two years after elections put an end to the military junta and to her prolonged house arrest. In 2011, a newly elected President, Thein Sein, started proposing and implementing political and economic reforms. Suu Kyi’s party, The National League for Democracy, currently holds a presence in the Burmese parliament, after winning 43 of the 45 open parliamentary seats in the by-elections held earlier this year.
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