Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba has met with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, seeking to assure her of Tokyo's full support for expanded democratic governance in the Southeast Asian nation.
Gemba held talks Monday with the Nobel laureate at her residence in Rangoon, and later told reporters he wants her and leaders of the country's new civilian government to attend a summit in Japan next year.
"I invited President U Thein Sein to attend the Japan-Mekong sub-region summit due to be held in Tokyo sometime next year. I also invited Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Japan," said Gemba.
For her part, Suu Kyi, who has spent much of the past two decades under house arrest, thanked Japan for its support.
"Our country is bound and determined to march towards the democratic goal. In doing so, I expect Japan to be at the forefront of friendly nations who will help us," she said.
Earlier Monday, the Japanese minister agreed with Burmese leaders to open negotiations on a bilateral investment pact. He also urged his counterpart, Wunna Maung Lwin, to free more political prisoners and ease restrictions on media and businesses.
Suu Kyi formally registered her National League for Democracy party last week, clearing the way for her to run for a seat in parliament.
Party officials say they will contest a series of upcoming by-elections once the registration is formally approved. Suu Kyi has not yet announced the constituency in which she expects to run.
She also visited the parliament last week for the first time since her release from house arrest late last year. She met with Shwe Mann, a senior figure in the nominally-civilian government and the long-ruling junta that preceded it.
The NLD was stripped of its status as a party last year because it refused to participate in controversial national elections, in which the popular democracy advocate was not permitted to run.
The election produced a new government which, while still dominated by past and present military officers, has implemented a series of reforms, relaxing media restrictions and opening dialogue with critics of the former junta.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.