U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, two of the world's most recognizable women leaders, pledged on Friday to work together to bring democracy to Suu Kyi's long isolated and repressive nation.
Wrapping up a historic three-day visit to Myanmar, Clinton held hands with Suu Kyi on the porch of the Nobel peace laureate's lakeside home where she spent much of the past two decades under house arrest and thanked her for a her "steadfast and very clear leadership." The meeting was the second in as many days for the pair who appeared to have bonded almost as sisters after a private, one-on-one dinner in Yangon on Thursday, says Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Clinton is the highest ranking American official in half a century to visit Myanmar, also known as Burma, which has been run by generals since 1962 until an election last year. A political detente would allow U.S. and European companies greater access to a market of 62 million people who have relied on neighbors China, India and Thailand to expand one of Asia's smallest economies. Clinton told President Thein Sein the U.S. would loosen restrictions on engagement by the World Bank and United Nations after he released political prisoners and engaged Suu Kyi in dialogue, she told reporters yesterday. More measures would follow, including an upgrade in diplomatic relations, if Myanmar takes additional steps to ease political repression and demonstrates reforms will last, she said, accoding to BusinessWeek.
"All hostilities must cease as soon as possible," she said, adding that rule of law would be essential to ensuring the release of hundreds of political prisoners. Both are also key U.S. demands of the Myanmar government. Ms. Suu Kyi closed her remarks, on her veranda overlooking a lake in downtown Yangon, by thanking President Barack Obama and the U.S. for their diplomatic outreach in recent months. She stressed the "careful and calibrated way in which they are approaching engagement" with Myanmar, before wrapping Secretary Clinton in a tight embrace, reports Wall Street Journal.