Thursday, July 19, 2012

Suu Kyi to pick up US Gold Medal on Sept. 19

Thursday, 19 July 2012 12:41 Mizzima News

Aung San Suu Kyi will accept the US Congress Gold Medal, the highest civilian honour, on September 19 in ceremonies in Washington, D.C., government officials said on Wednesday.

Aung San Suu Kyi In Bergen, Norway, on Sunday, June 17, 2012, where she received a long-delayed international award given to her when she was under house arrest in Burma. Photo: Kamilla Kvamme / flickr

The State Department said Suu Kyi would be invited for meetings with U.S. government officials during her visit. There was no announcement of whether she would speak to Congress. In June, Suu Kyi addressed a joint session of Britain’s Parliament.

Suu Kyi, elected to the Burmese Parliament in April, is admired by Republicans and Democrats, and she has been a strong voice in shaping U.S. policy toward Burma since her release from house arrest in November 2010.

She supported the Obama administration's engagement with reformist President Thein Sein, and this week she lobbied to have more US sanctions removed.

This month, the US removed investment sanctions on Burma, opening the way for US companies to directly invest in the country.

This week she telephoned US Sen. Mitch McConnell, asking him to work for the removal of US trade sanctions, which remain in force. Currently, legislation is passing through the Senate that would extend trade sanctions for three more years. It passed the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, and will go to the Senate soon. Many lawmakers support the extension, which could be rescinded at any time, as a way to keep pressure on the Burmese government to continue democratic reforms.

In June, Suu Kyi made a five-country tour of Europe, where she picked up her long-deferred Nobel Peace Prize, and urged countries to support Burma’s democratic reforms by making responsible investments in the country.

In Rangoon, Suu Kyi has received a steady stream of top US officials at her home, all eager to hear her views on progress and pitfalls in Burma’s democratic reforms, and to learn her views on sanctions on the country.

Recent US visitors included US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, newly appointed US Ambassador Derek Mitchell, and US senators McCain, McConnell, Feingold, Collins and Webb along with other top officials.

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