Suu Kyi sets date for US visit: party spokesman


Myanmar’s democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi will travel to the United States next Sunday, a spokesman for her party told AFP, in a trip that will see her awarded Washington’s highest honour.It will be her first visit to the US since she was put under house arrest in 1990.”The lady will travel on September 16,” said Nyan Win, spokesman for the Nobel laureate’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, without adding further details.As part of her visit Suu Kyi, who was elected to parliament this year in a dramatic sign of Myanmar’s reforms, will travel to Washington to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.The medal is the top honour bestowed by the US Congress, which voted to award it to Suu Kyi in May 2008 when the prospect of her leaving Myanmar looked remote.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited the democracy champion to Washington when she paid a landmark visit to Myanmar, also known as Burma, in December.Suu Kyi, 67, made her first forays outside Myanmar in more than two decades earlier this year, with visits to Thailand, Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Britain and France, receiving rock star welcomes along the way and being lauded as a model of peaceful resistance to dictatorship.The trip allowed her to finally give her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo and to receive awards granted during the almost two decades she spent under house arrest.Myanmar was for decades ruled by an iron-fisted junta, but a reformist government under ex-general President Thein Sein has freed political prisoners and allowed Suu Kyi’s party back into mainstream politics.Thein Sein is expected to head to the United States during a UN summit, at roughly the same time as Suu Kyi.US President Barack Obama last month waived visa restrictions so that Myanmar’s leader could travel freely during the UN General Assembly.The Obama administration, hoping to encourage further reforms, has sent a US ambassador to Myanmar for the first time in more than two decades and has eased restrictions on investment by US companies.