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After 40 years, Suu Kyi returns to Delhi

New Delhi, Nov 13, 2012, DHNS: 1:47 IST
Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on her arrival at IGI Airport in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma
The India-Myanmar relation is all set to turn a new leaf with the arrival of Myanmar’s iconic democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi here on Tuesday, for the first time in four decades and for the first time after being freed from confinement by the military junta in Myanmar. She will also visit Bangalore.

During her six-day stay in India, Suu Kyi, who came on the invitation of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid among other leaders.

After finishing her engagements in Delhi, the Nobel laureate will travel to Bangalore where she will visit the Indian Institute of Science and the Infosys campus. She is also scheduled to tour rural areas in Andhra Pradesh to gain a first-hand impression of the rural development and women’s empowerment programmes being undertaken in India.

Arriving in the capital on the day of Deepavali, Suu Kyi said ‘namaste’ to everybody who received her at the airport. She stayed indoors in the evening enjoying the festivity.

Her official engagements will begin on Wednesday, when she will visit Rajghat and Shantivan, paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, and follow it up with a meeting with Manmohan Singh. She is scheduled to deliver the Nehru Memorial Lecture on Thursday.

Key talks unlikely

Officials said considering the sensitiveness involved in India-Myanmar relations, specific bilateral issues were unlikely to figure in the discussions when Suu Kyi meets Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Khurshid.

Her meeting with Indian political leaders assumes significance because within hours of returning to Yangon, Suu Kyi will meet US President Barack Obama to discuss issues related to regional peace, stability and economic development. Obama is scheduled to pay a historic first visit to Myanmar where he will meet both President Thein Sein and Suu Kyi.

An interesting stop-over in Delhi for Suu Kyi would be the Lady Sri Ram College on Friday from where she graduated in political science in the early 1960s. The college’s alumni association has planned a cultural function.

Suu Kyi did a part of her schooling in the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in the capital. She also spent some time as a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla in 1987. In the 1960s, she and her mother Daw Khin Kyi lived on 24 Akbar Road, now the headquarters of the Congress party. Her father, Burmese nationalist leader Gen Aung San, was a friend of Jawaharlal Nehru.

The champion of democracy will also visit the Energy and Resources Institute’s green campus in Gurgaon.

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