News / Asia

    Burmese President Praises Aung San Suu Kyi

    Burma's President Thein Sein speaks at the Asia Society in New York, September 27, 2012. Burma's President Thein Sein speaks at the Asia Society in New York, September 27, 2012.
    x
    Burma's President Thein Sein speaks at the Asia Society in New York, September 27, 2012.
    Burma's President Thein Sein speaks at the Asia Society in New York, September 27, 2012.
    VOA News
    Burmese President Thein Sein has offered rare praise for the country's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, marking an apparent step forward in her complicated relationship with the former military general.

    Speaking at the Asia Society in New York, Thein Sein acknowledged that the democracy leader, who spent years detained under Burma's former military rulers, had played a crucial role in the country's reform process.

    "She has been working with us in undertaking several reforms. She has been a good colleague. And I am sure she will try to do what she can in order to make the reform process complete. And I believe she will continue to work with us to accomplish all the things that we need to achieve in the country," said Thein Sein.

    Burma's President Thein Sein addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 27, 2012.Burma's President Thein Sein addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 27, 2012.
    x
    Burma's President Thein Sein addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 27, 2012.
    Burma's President Thein Sein addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 27, 2012.
    ​Speaking earlier at the United Nations General Assembly, the president congratulated the 1991 Nobel laureate on the honors she has received "in recognition for her efforts for democracy."

    It was the first time that Aung San Suu Kyi has been praised by the reformist president, who served as a former general in the military that imposed a harsh authoritarian rule over Burma for five decades.

    Burma analyst Suzanne DiMaggio, who moderated the discussion with Thein Sein, told VOA it was a landmark moment for the two rival leaders, who have sometimes disagreed on how to proceed with reforms. But she says they now seems to be be finding common ground.

    U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House in Washington, September 19, 2012.U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House in Washington, September 19, 2012.
    x
    U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House in Washington, September 19, 2012.
    U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Aung San Suu Kyi at the White House in Washington, September 19, 2012.
    "When we hosted Aung San Suu Kyi last week in Washington, she had a very conciliatory tone toward the president and made it clear that they both are working toward the same goal," said DiMaggio. "And he responded in kind. I think it's clear that their relationship is involving and improving and I think they recognize that their country needs both of them in order to achieve the many things that they need to do."

    Aung San Suu Kyi is currently on a high-profile, multi-week tour of the United States, a trip that some fear could overshadow President Thein Sein's visit to the United Nations.

    Path to democracy?

    Since taking power last year, Thein Sein's government has begun releasing political prisoners, relaxing censorship and opening dialogue with the democratic opposition and armed ethnic minority groups. But some of his military colleagues have been hesitant to change.

    On Thursday, Thein Sein insisted his country is on a path to democracy. But he said there are conditions that need to be met in order to solidify the reforms already made.

    "First, there has to be stability and rule of law in the country. We'll have to lay down a good foundation for the economy," he said. "If we manage to do that, we will be able to establish a stable political system, a stable democracy, and I don't think there will be any reversal in the political transition."

    Towards a common goal

    But DiMaggio said the most important development this week is that both President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi appear to now have, to a large extent, the same goals for Burma.

    "There may be some differences on how to get there and what priorities should be," she said. "But nonetheless, I think they're really in sync with each other on how to move forward and what needs to be done. So in that sense, it gives me a great deal of optimism, because if the two of them have a common agenda, it really is encouraging that a lot can be accomplished."

    And many observers agree that there is still much that needs to be accomplished in Burma, including the formation of a independent judiciary and amending a constitution that effectively guarantees military control.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.+

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.