French FM Meets Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi

Posted January 15th, 2012 at 4:30 pm (UTC-5)
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French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has awarded Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi one of France's highest honors.

At a ceremony in Rangoon Sunday, Juppe presented Aung San Suu Kyi with the Legion of Honor in recognition of her long struggle for democracy.

Speaking alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, Juppe said France and the European Union would respond “positively and in concrete terms” to a series of fast-paced reforms by Burma's government, calling them “historic.” He told reporters he had met with some of the more than 650 prisoners freed Friday and saluted their courage and dignity.

Aung San Suu Kyi said she hoped the prisoner release, which included many political activists, will reinforce the process of democratization and national reconciliation in the country.

Juppe, who is the first French foreign minister to ever visit Burma, is due to meet Monday with Burma's president Thein Sein in the capital, Naypyitaw.

His trip to the Asian nation follows a similar visit in December by Hillary Clinton, who became the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Burma in more than 50 years. On Friday, Washington restored full diplomatic relations with Burma, following the prisoner release.