Suu Kyi visits Europe for first time in 24 years

Aung San Suu Kyi left Myanmar to start her European tour covering Switzerland, Norway, Britain, Ireland, France.

Yangon: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi left her country on Wednesday to start her European tour covering Switzerland, Norway, Britain, Ireland and France.

The trip of Suu Kyi, who is also a parliamentarian, came more than a week after she made her first trip in 24 years to Thailand and attended the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok.

Aung San Suu Kyi will first arrive in Switzerland and deliver an address at a conference of the International Labor Organisation (ILO) in Geneva and then head to Oslo, Norway where she will collect her Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 1991 when she was under house arrest.

Norway had lifted economic sanctions against Myanmar in April while keeping arms embargo in force.

After Norway, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate will proceed to Dublin, Ireland where she will pick up the prize "Ambassador of Conscience" awarded by the Amnesty International.

She will then travel to Britain`s London at the invitation of Prime Minister David Cameron where she will address both the houses of the British Parliament.

Her trip is expected to include a visit to British city Oxford where she pursued university education in the 1970s.

She will receive an honorary doctorate from the Oxford University.

As the final leg of her European tour, Suu Kyi will visit France`s Paris where she will also address the French Parliament at the invitation of new President Francois Hollande and stay until June 29.

The United States and the European Union in the past months have moved to ease or suspend sanctions on Myanmar as the nation embarks on democratic reforms and seeks engagement with the world.

However, the Obama administration extended in May for another year the sanctions on investment and trade with Myanmar imposed since May 1997.

Switzerland, Canada and Australia have also lifted all sanctions on Myanmar in May with the exception of an embargo on arms to show support for the country`s sweeping reforms in recent months, while Japan waived USD 3.7 billion of Myanmar`s debt.

Suu Kyi`s European trip is preceded by a six-day productive tour to Thailand from May 29 to June 03, during which she met with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and had discussions with Deputy Prime Minister Dr Chalerm Yubamrung on the issues of Myanmar migrant workers and refugees in Thailand.

Addressing the World Economic Forum, Suu Kyi stressed her country is in urgent need of basic education to ensure continuous reform. She called on investors to bring jobs and training for young people in Myanmar.

She visited central Thailand`s Samut Sakhon province, which is about 30 kilometers southwest of Bangkok and home to many Myanmar migrants who are the primary labour force in Thailand`s fisheries industry.

She also visited Myanmar refugees accommodated in the Mae La Camp on the Thai-Myanmar border which is also home to nearly 50, 000 refugees mainly populated by ethnic Kayin people displaced by internal war since independence in 1949.

Suu Kyi`s trip came two months after her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), overwhelmingly won the April 01 by-elections, taking 43 out of the 45 open parliamentary seats, of which 37 with the House of Representatives (Lower House).

Suu Kyi herself won a seat of House of Representatives with Yangon region`s Kawhmu constituency.

She and her party`s Parliament representatives-elect were sworn in to office on May 02, while insisting on its three-point stance -- rule of law, internal peace and Constitution amendments.


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