New York: Talk about practicing what you preach: a smitten Archbishop Desmond Tutu has declared "love" for Burmese democracy hero Aung San Suu Kyi.
Giggling with excitement, the South African anti-apartheid campaigner and man of peace could hardly contain himself while speaking on Wednesday via videolink from a New York conference to Suu Kyi in Burma.
"I love you," Tutu told Suu Kyi, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was released from years of house arrest last November but still rarely appears in public.
"I must return the compliment and say I love you," she replied from the slightly fuzzy satellite TV picture.
The impromptu exchange sent Tutu and the watching conference room of political and business leaders into fits of laughter. And Tutu was only just getting warmed up.
Praising Suu Kyi for her peaceful resistance to the Burmese military regime and resilience during years of house arrest, Tutu spoke at length about her moral qualities, "the things that you have suffered, your compassion".
Then he threw in and "your beauty", before immediately erupting in hooting, high-pitched laughter.
"I`m dazed," he admitted. "One would have expected that you would have been hard. You are so petite, demure," he said, cracking up again.
Smiling warmly, but considerably calmer, Suu Kyi responded: "This is going to turn out to be a mutual admiration society."
Tutu later encouraged Suu Kyi in her struggle to bring democracy to Burma and said he was "looking forward to coming to Burma when you are inaugurated as the head of government there".
Giving the love-struck human rights campaigner a glimmer of romantic hope, Suu Kyi answered: "I`ll have to be very, very ambitious because I do want (Tutu) to come."