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Suu Kyi lauds India ties after meeting Manmohan

Manmohan Singh met Suu Kyi here on the third and final day of his official visit to Myanmar - a dozen agreements were inked between the two countries Monday. And in a measure of how she feels, Suu Kyi came to Manmohan Singh's hotel although other world leaders have always called on her.

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi

"…India and Burma have been particularly close over the years not just because of our geographical positions but because we have shared deep ties of friendship for many, many long years," the Nobel Laureate told the media after their over 45-minute meeting.

"The struggle for India's independence took place at the same time as the struggle for Burma's independence. My parents were great admirers of (India's first prime minister) Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and other Indian leaders, but we were particularly close to Panditji as I was taught to call him from a very young age," said a smiling Suu Kyi, who leaves Tuesday night for Thailand on her first overseas trip in nearly 25 years.

Wearing a purple dress embellished with flowers, the National League for Democracy leader said: "I am very happy at the prospect of closer ties with India because I think we have much to learn from one another and we have much to contribute to peace and stability in this region, because our goals, our democratic goals, work on the basis of peace and stability, and these are what we shall aim towards."

Responding to a request from Manmohan Singh to visit India, Suu Kyi said: "I am very gratified by the invitation to deliver the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture, and I hope I will take up this invitation before too long."

She hoped for greater exchanges "between our two peoples".

"As I said to the prime minister, true friendship between the countries can be based only on friendship between our peoples, and this is what I hope we will be able to achieve," she added.

Manmohan Singh, who spoke first after their meeting, said: "We in India are very proud of our longstanding association with her and members of her family including her parents.

"I sincerely hope that she will find it possible to visit India soon," he said.

Manmohan Singh said it had been a privilege to have met Suu Kyi, a democracy crusader who studied in New Delhi's Lady Shri Ram College before pursuing higher studies in Oxford.

In a break from her previous meetings, Suu Kyi came to the Sedona Hotel to meet the prime minister. Other world leaders including Hillary Clinton have called on her at her lakeside villa where she spent long years under house arrest.

Manmohan Singh said he had handed over an invitation letter from Sonia Gandhi to deliver the annual Jawaharlal Nehru memorial lecture.

He lauded Suu Kyi and said her life was one of "struggle and determination (which) has inspired millions of people all over the world".

He added that the she will play "a defining role" in the process of national reconciliation launched by President Thein Sein.

Suu Kyi took oath as a parliamentarian May 2.

Many world leaders are now visiting Myanmar following dramatic reforms initiated by the military junta. Myanmar has been under military rule for five decades.

The reforms are being powered by President Sein, who shed the uniform to play a key role in the formation of the Union Solidarity and Development Party. Manmohan Singh met the former general Monday.

Suu Kyi, who didn't leave Myanmar even when her huband was dying of cancer as she feared she won't be allowed to return, is an iconic symbol of democracy in Myanmar, a country of over 54 million.

Born in June 1945, she was barely two when her father, independence hero Gen Aung San, was assassinated. She won the Nobel Peace prize in 1991.
 

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