Hillary Clinton: Aung San Suu Kyi is a friend and inspiration


Pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (R) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hold hands as they speak after meeting at Suu Kyi's residence in Rangoon, Burma, December 2, 2011.


Saul Loeb

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Burma's democracy leader and national hero, Aung San Suu Kyi, Friday and referred to the Nobel laureate as an old friend and inspiration.

"It was like seeing a friend you hadn't seen for a very long time even though it was our first meeting," Clinton told the BBC.

"It was incredibly emotional and gratifying to see her free from the many years of house arrest."

Photographs show the two female world leaders laughing together and embracing one another as they give a joint press conference outside Suu Kyi's Rangoon home, where she spent much of the past two decades under house arrest.

Clinton also called Suu Kyi an inspiration, The New York Times reported.

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"That they met at all — and appeared together before international and local journalists — was itself a measure of the changes that have swept Myanmar, also known as Burma, since the new president, U Thein Sein, took office in March," it stated. "Those changes were enough to persuade President Obama to send Mrs. Clinton to explore ways to expand relations that have been badly strained for nearly a quarter century."

Suu Kyi told the press conference that she supports the US policy of beginning to engage with the Burmese government.

“If we go forward together, I am confident that there will be no turning back from the road towards democracy,” she said. “We are not on that road yet, but we hope to get there as soon as possible with the help and understanding of our friends.”

The woman also emphasized that the Burmese government must do much more, such as releasing hundreds of political prisoners and ending its oppression of ethnic groups.

Clinton and Suu Kyi also shared a private dinner together at Suu Kyi's home Thursday evening.

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