Suu Kyi meets PM Singh on landmark India visit


Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for talks in New Delhi on Wednesday, after warning India not to get carried away by reforms across its border.

Suu Kyi, who in the 1960s was a student in New Delhi where her mother served as an ambassador, is paying her first visit to India in 25 years - most of which were spent under military house arrest.

Her invitation is an attempt by Singh's government to repair a damaged relationship with Suu Kyi, who was finally freed by the junta in 2010 and led her party to a landslide victory in parliamentary by-elections in April.

New Delhi was once one of her staunchest supporters, but changed tack and sought engagement with the junta in the mid-1990s - a move that the Nobel peace prize winner has acknowledged ‘saddened’ her.

Singh visited Myanmar in May to try to strengthen trade links and counter the influence of regional rival China. The two governments signed 12 agreements covering an array of issues including security, trade and transport.

India shares a 1,640 kilometre (1,020 mile) border with its northeastern neighbour Myanmar and the two former British colonies have a long shared history.

Suu Kyi's father General Aung San - regarded as Myanmar's independence hero - was a personal friend of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Suu Kyi laid a wreath at Nehru's memorial in Delhi on Wednesday morning and will deliver an annual lecture in his honour later in the day.

Her talks with Premier Singh were held at his official residence in the Indian capital.

After meeting Suu Kyi in Myanmar earlier this year and inviting her on a return visit, Singh said India was ‘very proud of our longstanding association with her and members of the family’.

Suu Kyi's release, last year's end to military rule and the prospect of nationwide elections in 2015 have enabled Myanmar to shed its pariah status in the West and US President Barack Obama is due to visit next week.

Myanmar's military-backed President Thein Sein has vowed to put the economy at the centre of a new wave of reforms following the dramatic political changes.

But in an interview with The Hindu newspaper, Suu Kyi cautioned India against being overly optimistic.
"It's (got) to be able to take a good hard look at what is really happening," she told the Indian daily.
"Not to be over-optimistic, at the same time to be encouraging of what needs to be encouraged; because I think too much optimism doesn't help because then you ignore what is going wrong."

Suu Kyi acknowledged that businesses were keen to tap the opportunities across India's eastern border in competition with Chinese counterparts but added that "investment has to be done in the right way".

During the four-day trip, Suu Kyi is also due to visit parliament and inspect rural development projects.
On Friday she will visit the Lady Shri Ram college in New Delhi, where she graduated with a degree in politics.

Suu Kyi last visited India in 1987 when she travelled to Simla to join her husband Michael Aris, who was studying in the picturesque hill station.

Suu Kyi was unable to see Aris before his death from cancer in Britain in 1999, and missed seeing her sons grow up.

The then-ruling junta refused Aris a visa to visit her and Suu Kyi did not attempt to leave Myanmar during her few periods of freedom because of concerns that she would never be allowed to return

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