Myanmar's Suu Kyi supports Thein Sein UK invite

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 21, 2012 9:09 AM
Myanmar's Suu Kyi supports Thein Sein UK invite
By Matt FalloonLONDON (Reuters) - Myanmar President Thein Sein will travel to London in the coming months for talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, a move pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi said would help avoid her country being "shackled by the past".Speaking on the latest leg of an emotional 17-day tour of Europe after 15 years of house arrest in Myanmar, Suu Kyi batted away possible misgivings over the invitation to Britain of a man once part of the military junta that ruled Myanmar for 49 years."I think it's right to invite him. Because we don't want to be shackled by the past," the 67-year-old Oxford-graduate and Nobel Peace Prize winner told reporters in London on Thursday during a news conference with David Cameron."We want to use the past to build up a happier future."Thein Sein is head of a quasi-civilian government which in 2010 replaced the military junta. He has sought to end decades of international isolation by reforming Myanmar's once-oppressive political system and struggling economy.Suu Kyi left Britain, where she lived with her husband and two sons, in 1988 on what she expected to be a short trip to Myanmar, but was swept into her country's political turmoil as the military crushed protests and seized power.She endured years of separation from her family, refusing to leave Myanmar for fear she would not be able to return, and was unable to witness her sons growing up or to be with her husband Michael Aris when he was diagnosed with cancer. He died in 1999.Cameron's spokesman told reporters earlier on Thursday that Thein Sein is due to visit Britain in "in the coming months"."I think it is the right decision. Because there's a process of reform in Burma, and a process that the friends of democratic Burma like Britain want to see succeed," said Cameron, speaking alongside Suu Kyi. Britain still calls its former colony Burma."And in order for that to succeed we need to work with the regime whatever we may have thought of it in the past."Suu Kyi is due to address both houses of parliament - only the second woman to do so other than Britain's Queen Elizabeth - later on Thursday as part of her emotional return to Britain.Now an icon of non-violent political resistance, she was released in 2010 as part of Sein's political reforms."The progress we have seen in Burma is testament to the bravery and vision shown by Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein. They have embarked on a process of reform that could bring genuine democracy to Burma," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier on Thursday.Cameron's visit to Myanmar in April, the first by a Western leader in decades, sent a signal the West was prepared to welcome the country back in from the cold.(Reporting by Matt Falloon; Editing by Jon Hemming)