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Burmese Pro-Democracy Leader Prepares for Historic Overseas Trip

Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) waves to the crowd as she leaves National League for Democracy (NLD) headquarters after addressing journalists and supporters in Rangoon on April 2, 2012.

Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to make her first trip overseas in 24 years. Officials with her National League for Democracy party say the Nobel Peace Laureate will travel to Norway in June.

Aung San Suu Kyi has not left Burma since 1988, when she traveled to Rangoon from her home in England to visit her ailing mother. She soon became a leader in the student uprising that was crushed by the military, propelling her to international fame as a democracy icon.

For fear that she would not be allowed to return, she has remained in Burma since then, refusing to leave even when her husband was dying of cancer in England. But after winning election to parliament earlier this month, Aung San Suu Kyi appears poised to break her self-imposed travel ban.

Svein Michelsen, a spokesman for the Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs said she plans to visit Norway in June.

“What I can confirm is that the Norwegian foreign minister spoke with Aung San Suu Kyi, Sunday last, and they discussed plans for her to visit Norway. And we are now planning to receive her in June. But of course we are very much looking forward to her visiting Norway,” he said.

Aung San Suuy Kyi is also expected to visit England, where her two sons live and where she met her late husband Michael Aris. Last week she said discussed plans to visit England with visiting Prime Minister David Cameron, who met with her in Rangoon.

But NLD spokesman Nyo Myint has long said Norway would be one of the first countries she planned to visit.

“The reason is that she really appreciate[s] Norway very much, [and its] support towards Burma democratization. And of course she also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, so that is her wish to travel [there],” Nyo said.

When Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, she was under house arrest. Although her house arrest did not bar her from international travel, she refused to collect her prize in person for fear she would be forced to remain in exile.

She was therefore unable to deliver her Nobel lecture, which Sigrid Langebrekke of the Nobel Institute says is long overdue.

“We are talking about the week of the 25th of June," specified Langebrekke. "But we have no exact date and we have no confirmation from herself. We have invited her several times and she has said that the first visit [would be] to Norway, that she will be coming to Norway, and she will give her Nobel lecture.”

Aung San Suu Kyi and her political allies are expected to formally join Burma’s government next week, when they are due to take their seats in parliament on April 23. After joining, the National League for Democracy would become the main opposition in a parliament dominated by military-backed political parties.