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Aung San Suu Kyi is key to Obama trip

When President Barack Obama makes his four-day trip starting today to the East Asian Summit, he’ll meet in Cambodia with major world leaders, including those from Russia and China.
But his most interesting and perhaps most meaningful visit may be a stop along the way.
Obama will meet in Burma (also known as Myanmar) with Aung San Suu Kyi. She’s a Nobel laureate who spent 15 years locked in her modest family home by Burma’s military dictatorship.
Her “crime” was that she won an election overwhelmingly against the military dictators.
Obama will be the first U.S. president to ever visit Burma.
The highest ranking U.S. official to visit Burma in more than 50 years was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who met with officials and Suu Kyi in December.
My impressions of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar are firsthand:
In 2003, two of my key associates from the Freedom Forum and I went to Burma to inform Suu Kyi that she had won a $1 million “Free Spirit” award from our organization.
Recognized journalists were not allowed in Burma then, so we went at a risk. A $5 tip got us through the airport without any questions asked.
At her home, we sat in a modestly furnished living room with a huge 8’ x 12’ painting of her father. He was assassinated in 1947, six months before he was to become prime minister of an independent Burma.
If Obama gets the message from Suu Kyi, he — and we — will be able to better understand what democracy is all about.

“President Obama’s decision to visit Burma is a tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi’s unique role in liberating her country. But, as she will doubtless tell him, the job is only half done.”
Peter Popham — author of”The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi“
“Some say it’s too early in Myanmar’s transition to reward it with a presidential visit. But by going there, Mr. Obama will help to strengthen the hand of pro-democracy reformers.”
Suzanne DiMaggio — vice president of Global Policy Programs Asia Society
“With this trip, President Obama is demonstrating tangible support for Burma’s democratization. Continued U.S. support will be crucial for ensuring that Burma doesn’t stray from the road to a freer future.”
Michael Mazza — foreign and defense policy studies research fellowAmerican Enterprise Institute

Posted by BCJP on Saturday, November 17, 2012. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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