Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi to make overseas trip for the first time in decades

Updated On: Apr 19, 2012

Leader of the National Democratic Party and Myanmar Parlimentarian Aung San Suu Kyi will leave the country for the first time in decades in June, her spokesperson has said.

In a sign of confidence about political reforms, Ms Suu Kyi will travel to Norway, where she is expected to formally accept the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991.

She will then travel to the UK, where she studied at Oxford University and met her husband, Michael Aris, who passed away in her absence in 1999.

Ms Suu Kyi's willingness to travel, is another sign of her confidence in the country's reform process. She has previously refused to leave Myanmar for the past 24 years for fear of not being allowed to return.

During this time, she was seperated from her family and turned down an offer by the Myanmar junta to see her husband for the last time, as he was dying of cancer.

Addressing an invitation to the UK extended by British Prime Minister David Cameron, she said, "Two years ago I would have said thank you for the invitation, but sorry. But now I am able to say perhaps, and that's great progress."

Meanwhile, Ms Suu Kyi is preparing to take up her parliamentary seat on Monday, but uncertainty remains over her admission together with other members of her party because of a dispute related to the oath of office.

The NLD have expressed objections to pledging their protection of the country's Constitution, saying that some of its articles are undemocratic, including a provision that grants one-quarter of the seats to the military. The party is looking to amend the Constitution, but party spokesman Mr. Nyan Win said he had not heard back from the government on the issue.

Report: Suu Kyi to Make First Trip Since 1988 (TIME, 18 April 2012)

Report: Dissident to Travel Out of Myanmar After 24 Years of Resolving to Stay Put (New York Times, 18 April 2012)

Report: Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Europe (BBC News, 18 April 2012)

Foreign Minister to visit US

Myanmar's Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin will visit the US in May, Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia said on Tuesday.

Mr Campbell told the Straits Times in an interview on Wednesday that the US was "very encouraged by the momentus steps" in the country, but outlined some key areas where he felt more could be done.

One was Myanmar's military relationship with North Korea, where he said that " we want the new government in Myanmar to associate with different kinds of states from what it used to previously."

He also called for the complete release of all political prisoners, and for effects of recent reforms to trickle down to rural communities.

The US has also said that Ms Suu Kyi had an open invitation to visit America, which was first extended when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a visit to Myanmar in December.

President to visit Japan

Myanmar President Thein Sein will visit Japan for five days over the weekend, marking the first visit by a Myanmar head of state in nearly 3 decades. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Mr Sein are expected to discuss resuming financial aid to the country.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange and Daiwa Securities Group, Japan's second-largest brokerage, said last week that they will help Myanmar establish a securities exchange as part of an effort to rebuild its economy.

The move comes amid growing interest from Japanese companies to explore investment opportunities in the country as it emerges from economic isolation.

Report: US invites Myanmar minister, welcomes Suu Kyi travel (AFP, 19 April 2012)

Report: Myanmar Leader to Visit Japan (WSJ, 18 April 2012)

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