Myanmar's Suu Kyi 'happy' after meeting president

AP News
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Posted: Aug 20, 2011 12:04 PM
Myanmar's Suu Kyi 'happy' after meeting president

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Saturday she was pleased with her first meeting with the military-dominated country's new president. It was her highest contact with the new government since her release from house arrest last November.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate told reporters she was "happy and satisfied" with the meeting Friday. She spoke after attending a government-sponsored forum in the capital, Naypyitaw.

The government's invitation to Suu Kyi has generated optimism that the nominally civilian government of President Thein Sein is willing to hold a dialogue with the opposition. Suu Kyi has repeatedly called for talks since her release from seven years of house arrest.

"I hope and believe there will be better understanding" with the government, Suu Kyi spokesman Nyan Win told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Officials warmly greeted Suu Kyi on Saturday at the government-run forum, where she chatted with several over coffee. It was in a stark contrast with the 15 of the past 22 years she has spent under house arrest. During her last seven-year stretch she lived with two female members of her National League for Democracy party and rarely was allowed to see anyone else.

Suu Kyi was driven home to Yangon in a government car after attending the forum.

In their meeting Friday, Suu Kyi and Thein Sein held "frank and friendly discussions" to "find ways and means of cooperation," state-run newspapers reported Saturday with pictures of them greeting each other.

In Brussels, the European Union welcomed the meeting as a "positive first step."

"National reconcilliation is very important for all the people of Burma/Myanmar," said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. "We very much hope this meeting bears fruit in the longer term."

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Associated Press writer Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.