Myanmar's Suu Kyi meets with top leaders in India

AP News
Posted: Nov 14, 2012 7:54 AM
Myanmar's Suu Kyi meets with top leaders in India

NEW DELHI (AP) — Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with India's prime minister and foreign secretary on Wednesday as part of a trip to establish closer ties between the countries.

Suu Kyi, who arrived Tuesday for a five-day visit, met separately with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai. Details of the meetings were not immediately available.

In the 1980s and early '90s, India was a strong supporter of Suu Kyi in her struggle against the country's military junta for which she received the Nobel Peace Prize. But in the mid-1990s, India changed tack to engage with the junta, resisting pressure from Western democracies that had imposed economic sanctions on Myanmar.

New Delhi insisted it had to follow a pragmatic policy because it needed its neighbor's help in cracking down on Indian rebels who had built hideouts in the jungles along the India-Myanmar border. The new policy also underscored India's quest for energy supplies and concerns about China's strong influence in the Southeast Asian country.

In an interview published Tuesday in the Indian newspaper The Hindu, Suu Kyi said she hoped her visit would bring India and Myanmar closer.

"I feel that perhaps in recent years we've grown apart as peoples, because India took a road which is different from ours, or rather we changes routes. I'd like to see a closer relationship between our two peoples," she said in the interview.

Suu Kyi also visited the memorials of Indian independence leaders Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru on Wednesday, and was to deliver the prestigious Nehru Memorial Lecture, held annually to mark the birthday of independent India's first elected leader, later in the day.

Singh invited Suu Kyi to deliver the lecture when he met with her in Myanmar's main city of Yangon in May.

Her visit is an emotional one because Suu Kyi spent several years in India as a student in the early 1960s while her mother was ambassador to India. Her itinerary includes a visit to her old college in New Delhi on Friday.

"I'd like to see the old places, the places where I spent time as a teenager," she told The Hindu. She last visited India in the 1980s.

Suu Kyi is to meet Thursday with Vice President Hamid Ansari, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and Speaker of Parliament Meira Kumar.

She also is to visit Parliament and travel to southern India to see rural development projects and women's empowerment programs, according to India's Foreign Ministry.