Myanmar's most famous opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, began a visit to Washington, DC, on Tuesday with a sit-down meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The New York Times reported that this is Suu Kyi's first official visit to the United States, "punctuating the remarkable thawing of tensions between the United States and Myanmar over the last year," The Times wrote.
Myanmar, which has been under military rule for decades but has undergone recent democratic reforms, is also known as Burma.
Suu Kyi and Clinton discussed whether the US should further relax its economic sanctions against Myanmar given those reforms, the Associated Press reported.
Speaking at the United States Institute of Peace following the meeting, Clinton said "this morning at the State Department we talked about [the future]... One of the important reasons for her visit is it to remember how much work still lies ahead.”
Clinton said Myanmar's "government and opposition need to work together to heal the wounds of the past... There are forces that could take the country in the 'wrong direction' if given the chance."
Clinton stressed that the US is committed to continued reform but that Myanmar is “still a work in progress.”
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Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate who now heads Myanmar's National League for Democracy, had previously been under house arrest in her home country on and off for 15 years. In April, her party won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections, representing a major political shift. AFP wrote that during their meeting, Clinton "voiced excitement at the opposition leader's journey from house arrest to stateswoman."
In Washington, Suu Kyi said her country would benefit from good relations with both China and the US and spoke candidly about the recent elections that brought her to power.
"I will be frank and say we have grave doubts about the way the elections were conducted and say that even the United Nations has doubts," she said at the Asia Society awards ceremony at the United States Institute of Peace.
The Southeast Asian politician's visit coincides with a visit by Suu Kyi's Thein Sein, "Myanmar's reformist president," Reuters reported. Thein Sein, formerly a junta general, will meet with US officials to "try to convey Myanmar's urgent need for the import ban and other American sanctions to be eased," Reuters wrote.
Suu Kyi will be in the US for about two and half weeks. In addition to meetings with officials and speaking engagements, she will accept Congress's highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, as well as the Atlantic Council's Global Citizen Award, Voice of America reported.