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Aung San Suu Kyi Urges Cooperation Among Burma’s Leaders

  • Margaret Besheer

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speak at a joint media conference at the United Nations in New York, September 21, 2012.
Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged cooperation among leaders in her country to work for its good. Speaking briefly during a visit to the United Nations Friday, she said the time has come for the Burmese people to take responsibility for democratizing their own country.

Aung San Suu Kyi is making her first visit to the United States in decades, just days ahead of a visit by her president, Thein Sein, who will be making his international debut at the U.N. General Assembly’s annual debate on Thursday morning.

Asked if she worried about stealing his spotlight, she said she did not think people should think about it in terms of personalities.

“I think we should think about it as a common goal," she said. "If we all want to achieve genuine democracy for Burma, we have to learn to work together and not think about our impact as personalities, either in our country or in the world at large.”

The pro-democracy activist, who spent years under house arrest during military rule, said she welcomed the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Burma.

“It is time now that the Burmese people took responsibility for their democratization of the country," said the opposition leader. "I am very, very appreciative of what the U.S. Congress has done for many years to support our movement, but now we have to try to work on our own, of course, with the continuing support and help of friends.”

Aung San Suu Kyi met Friday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said she has become a “global symbol of human rights."

“We have great expectations and hope that she will lead this path of reconciliation and greater participatory democracy and development of her country, together with President Thein Sein of Myanmar,” he said.

Afterwards, the democracy icon met with U.N. staff from Burma, which is also known as Myanmar. Staffer Hnin Yu said Aung San Suu Kyi urged the diaspora to be involved in Burma’s transition.

“She said wherever you are, in a way, you can help out. You don’t have to be there to help out, everybody can be involved,” said Hnin Yu.

Friday night Aung San Suu Kyi was to pick up yet another award, this time from the Atlantic Council, where she will be one of their Global Citizens of the Year. On Wednesday, she received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal.