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Suu Kyi learns from Northern Ireland peace process

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Aung San Suu Kyi said Northern Ireland's peace process could help reconciliation in Myanmar, as the Nobel peace laureate visited the British province on Thursday.

The Myanmar opposition leader said she wanted to learn lessons about how Protestants and Catholics ended three decades of sectarian bloodshed and formed a power-sharing administration.

Myanmar has recently been rocked by anti-Muslim bloodshed and is also trying to overcome the legacy of decades of rampant human rights violations and conflict between the government and various ethnic groups.

Suu Kyi met politicians, police and schoolchildren during her visit to the province.

"The main reason I have come to Northern Ireland is to learn about how you managed to negotiate a peace process in spite of all the difficulties," she said at Wellington College in Belfast.

"It is very useful, what we have learned here I think will help us a great deal back in Burma.

"I want to see from you how you see your present-day problems because I am told the work is not done."

She said the divisions in Northern Ireland were more deep-seated than in Myanmar, though the problem in her country was more complex, with many different ethnicities and the challenges of integrating civilian and military politics.

Suu Kyi toured the Northern Irish capital and visited the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction, based on the doomed ocean liner built in the city.

On Wednesday in London she met Britain's heir to the throne Prince Charles, shortly before the christening of his grandson Prince George.

The Nobel peace laureate also met Prime Minister David Cameron, who said he would help build international pressure on Myanmar to lift its ban on people whose spouses or children are foreign nationals -- including Suu Kyi -- from running for president.

Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest under military rule in Myanmar, before she was freed after controversial elections in 2010.

The democracy icon is now an opposition lawmaker as part of sweeping reforms under a new quasi-civilian regime that took office in 2011.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131024/suu-kyi-learns-northern-ireland-peace-process