Monday, September 10, 2012

Suu Kyi leaves for US on Sunday

Monday, 10 September 2012 12:16 Mizzima News

Aung San Suu Kyi will leave for the United States on Sunday to receive the Congressional Gold Medal and to speak to various groups in Washington, D.C., New York City, Fort Wayne and the San Francisco Bay area.

The medal is the top honour bestowed by the US Congress, which voted to award it to Suu Kyi in May 2008 when the prospect of her leaving Burma looked remote.

The head of the parliamentary committee on Rule of Law and Stability Aung San Suu Kyi attends a meeting of the committee at the Rangoon Division Parliament on Sept. 8, 2012. Suu Kyi will travel to the US on September 16, a spokesman for her party said, where she will be awarded Washington's highest honour. Photo: AFP

Suu Kyi, 67, made her first foray outside Burma in more than two decades earlier this year, when she visited Thailand, Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Britain and France, where she received a rock star welcome along the way and was lauded as a model of peaceful resistance to dictatorship.

Burma’s President Thein Sein, with whom Suu Kyi enjoys an informal working relationship to modernize Burma, is expected to head to the United States during a UN summit, at roughly the same time as Suu Kyi.

US President Barack Obama last month waived visa restrictions so that Thein Sein could travel freely during the UN General Assembly.

The Obama administration, hoping to encourage further reforms, has named a US ambassador to Burma for the first time in more than two decades and has eased restrictions on investment by US companies.

The US State Department is sponsoring Suu Kyi's travel to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 19 to pick up the Congressional Gold Medal lawmakers awarded her in 2008 while she was still under house arrest.

The State Department said Suu Kyi would be invited for meetings with government officials.

The Atlantic Council will present her with its Global Citizen Award recognizing “visionary global leaders” on Sept. 21 in New York.

Burmese natives living in the San Francisco bay area said Aung San Suu Kyi will visit there during her US tour.

She is expected to attract thousands of Burmese exiles who make up the largest concentration of Burmese population in the US, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, which counted more than 8,500 area residents who describe themselves as Burmese.

The invitation to visit was made by Santa Clara software engineer Yasmin Vanya when she visited Burma this spring and met with the Burmese leader.

“I said 'please come to America, and please come to the Bay Area.' She said, 'not now, but maybe sometime in the future,'” said Vanya, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News.

Suu Kyi will also visit other Burmese hubs including Fort Wayne, Ind., Los Angeles and New York City, where she lived in her 20s while working for the United Nations.

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