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Manmohan meets Suu Kyi, hails India ties

Manmohan meets Suu Kyi, hails India ties

Yangon: Myanmar's iconic pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Tuesday after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that she was "happy at the prospect of closer ties with India".

Manmohan Singh met Suu Kyi here on the third and final day of his official visit to oil-rich Myanmar with whom a dozen agreements were inked Monday.

"India and Burma have been particularly close over the years," Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi told reporters after their over 45-minute meeting.

"The struggle for India's independence took place at the same time as the struggle for Burma's independence," said a smiling Suu Kyi, who leaves Tuesday night for Thailand on her first overseas trip in nearly a quarter century.

Wearing a purple dress embellished with flowers, the National League for Democracy leader said she was "happy at the prospect of closer ties with India".

"Our democratic goal is on the basis of peace and stability," she said as Manmohan Singh looked on.

She added that she was willing to take up the invitation to deliver the Jawaharlal Nehru memorial lecture in India.

Manmohan Singh said it had been a privilege to have met Suu Kyi, who studied in New Delhi's Lady Sri Ram College before pursuing higher studies in Oxford.

"We in India are very proud of our long standing association with her and members of her family," said the prime minister.

In a break from her previous meetings, Suu Kyi came to the Sedona Hotel to meet the prime minister. Other world leaders have called on her at her lakeside villa where she spent long years under house arrest.

Manmohan Singh said he had handed over a letter from Congress president Sonia Gandhi to deliver the Jawaharlal Nehru memorial lecture.

He lauded Suu Kyi and said her life was one of "struggle and determination (which) has inspired millions of people all over the world".

He added that the she will play "a defining role" in the process of national reconciliation launched by President Thein Sein.

A string of world leaders have met Suu Kyi, who took oath as a parliamentarian May 2.

The visits followed dramatic reforms initiated by the military junta following Western sanctions. Myanmar has been under military rule for five decades.

The reforms are being powered by President Sein, who shed the uniform to play a key role in the formation of the Union Solidarity and Development Party. Manmohan Singh met the former general Monday.

Suu Kyi, who didn't leave Myanmar even when her huband was dying of cancer as she feared she may not be allowed back in, is a symbol of democracy in Myanmar, a country of over 54 million.

Born in June 1945, she was barely two when her father was assassinated. She won the Nobel Peace prize in 1991.

On May 2, Suu Kyi, whose party swept last month's by-elections, was sworn in as a member of Myanmar's parliament.


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