Aung San Suu Kyi to Meet UN Chief in New York

Posted September 21st, 2012 at 4:55 am (UTC-5)
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Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi meets with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Friday, as she continues her 17-day tour of the United States.

The democracy activist's return to New York, where she worked over 40 years ago at U.N. headquarters, is part of her first visit to the U.S. since being released from house arrest in 2010.

The 67-year-old Nobel laureate has been busy since arriving in the states, meeting with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as receiving the Congressional Gold Medal at a moving ceremony in the U.S. Capitol.

At a university lecture in Washington on Thursday, she called on the Burmese community in the U.S. to support the democratic movement in their homeland. But she also urged activists to continue pushing for further reforms in Burma, which is emerging from decades of harsh military rule.

Nicholas Farrelly, a Burma analyst at the Australian National University, tells VOA that he expects Aung San Suu Kyi to deliver the same message when she meets with Ban Ki-moon on Friday.

“The message is going to be that it's still the early days in Burma and there are plenty of things that could go wrong, but the trajectory is good. The Burmese people for the first time in a generation have an opportunity to have their voices heard, and there's a government in place that has made all the right moves at this stage.”

Farrelly says he was particularly impressed that Aung San Suu Kyi mentioned President Thein Sein, a former military leader, as deserving partial credit for the positive changes in Burma.

President Thein Sein, who is set to deliver an address to the U.N. General Assembly next week, has overseen a series of economic and political reforms since his government took power last year.

The latest was this week's release of around 100 political prisoners as part of a general amnesty. But while the move was welcomed by world leaders, it was also met with skepticism by those who want to see all of Burma's remaining prisoners of conscience released.

Even still, there have been signs of positive change, both small and large. On Friday, Burma's official New Light of Myanmar newspaper provided rare coverage of Aung San Suu Kyi, in a further sign that its strictly controlled press is opening up.

The paper reported that Aung San Suu Kyi received the reward from the U.S. Congress. The article, which appeared on the last page of the paper, also made mention of her call for further easing of U.S. economic sanctions on Burma.