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Aung San Suu Kyi Departs on Landmark Trip to Europe

  • VOA News

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes her way through the Yangon International Airport as she leaves for her trip to Europe June 13, 2012.

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes her way through the Yangon International Airport as she leaves for her trip to Europe June 13, 2012.

Long-time Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has departed on a landmark European tour that will include her formal acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her more than 20 years ago.

The opposition leader, who spent much of the past two decades under house arrest, set out from Rangoon Wednesday for her first trip to Europe in 24 years. Before leaving, she told reporters at the airport that she expects the tour will be eye-opening.

"Each country will be different. I will know how backward [Burma] is when I reach the other countries," she said.

In Geneva Thursday, she will address the annual International Labor Organization conference. She next goes to Norway to deliver a long-awaited acceptance speech for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, which she was unable to accept in person because of her detention.

Aung San Suu Kyi will then make a brief stop in Ireland to receive an Amnesty International human rights award from rock star Bono, and will continue to Britain where she has been invited to address both houses of parliament.

The 67-year-old democracy activist, who lived in Britain for years with her - now deceased - husband, also plans to have a lot of unscheduled personal time while on her European tour.

This will be her second trip abroad and follows a recent five-day visit to Thailand. It comes as Burma's new nominally civilian government has begun making democratic reforms after decades of military rule.

The newly-elected lawmaker is expected to return to Burma in time for the July 4 reconvening of parliament, which is set to consider crucial legislation, including laws on media regulation and foreign investment.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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