Aung San Suu Kyi, foresees "signs of real change very soon" in Myanmar but has urged the world not to take its eye off her country.
Suu Kyi, speaking via fuzzy satellite linkup to a gathering of former and current world leaders in New York led by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, sections of which were broadcast on the BBC, said:
"I've had talks with some of the representatives of the government and we hope that we are going to see signs of real change very soon.
"There has been a lot of talk about change, but people always want to see something concrete. And they're right, too. Talk is never enough. But at least it's a beginning. And I think we're beginning to see the beginning of change."
Aung San Suu Kyi, 66, is head of the National League for Democracy, which won a landslide victory in 1990 elections but was unable to wrest power from the military junta.
A Burmese opposition icon, Suu Kyi has herself has been either imprisoned or under house arrest for a combined 15 years since she returned to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, from England in 1988, according to Bloomberg. She was released last November and has since held talks with the country's nominally civilian government, she said.
According to AFP, Suu Kyi downplayed comparisons with so-called Arab Spring revolts in North Africa and the Middle East that brought down decades-old dictatorships and were facilitated by social networking sites.
"I don't think the [social] media has quite the position here that it had in the Arab countries," she said, referring to Myanmar's tightly controlled Internet use. "In Burma, we do not have such a developed communications system."
However, she said, all people around the world "can understand 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'"
"The idea of freedom and security, beautifully balanced, is a concept that is acceptable to human beings across the world. This is what we know: people want to be free and they want to feel secure as well," she said, Bloomberg reports.
Fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, also speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative forum in New York, told Suu Kyi that seeing and hearing her left him "like a smitten young man."
"I love you!" Tutu, who turns 80 next month, told Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi told him the feeling was mutual.
"I must return the compliment and say: 'I love you,'" she replied, News24 reports.
Tutu added, "quite seriously," that he was looking forward to visiting Myanmar upon her inauguration as "head of government there."
Suu Kyi also said that she hadn’t expected her struggle to take so long:
"All journeys are made step by step. To be quite honest, I didn't think when I first started out in the movement for democracy... I'd have to devote my whole life to it."