Suu Kyi meets PM, receives invitation to visit India

Yangon: In the highest-level contact between India and Aung San Suu Kyi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today held talks with Myanmar`s democracy icon here and handed over to her an invitation from UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to visit India which has a "long-standing association" with her.

Singh, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Myanmar in quarter of a century, and Suu Kyi held discussions for 45 minutes.

During their meeting which took place on the last day of the Prime Minister`s historic visit, Singh handed over to the Nobel laureate an invitation from Sonia Gandhi to visit India to deliver the next Jawaharlal Nehru memorial lecture.

Accepting in principle the invite, Suu Kyi said "I hope I will be able to take up the invitation not before too long".

Emerging from the meeting at the Sedonia Hotel, where the 66-year-old opposition leader of Myanmar called on the Prime Minister by sticking to protocol, Suu Kyi recalled the close association she and her parents had with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his family.

"India and Burma have been friends not only because of geographical proximity but also because of shared values, heritage and fight for independence," she said.

Speaking first, the Prime Minister paid rich compliments to Suu Kyi, saying her "struggle and her determination has inspired millions of people all over the world".

"We in India are very proud of the very long-standing association with her (Suu Kyi) and the members of her family," Singh said.

Dressed in violet "longyi" (sarong) and a flip-fop, Suu Kyi, who has strong personal ties with New Delhi where she studied in Convent of Jesus and Mary School and Lady Sriram College in early 1960s, said "I particularly remember Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru".

"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 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," she said.

Suu Kyi said it has been "a great pleasure and privilege to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and I very much appreciate the fact that he has made time to see me here in Rangoon (Yangon) in spite of his very heavy programme."

Singh said "I have invited her (Suu Kyi) to visit India. I sincerely hope that she will find it possible to visit India soon," he said. "In his context, I have handed over to her the invitation letter to deliver the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture which is a very prestigious lecture. Mrs Sonia Gandhi has written an invitation letter to Madam (Suu Kyi) to do us the honour to deliver this lecture in India."

Suu Kyi was chosen by India in 1993 for the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for Peace and International Understanding but has not received it so far as she was kept under house arrest by the military regime in Myanmar for much of the time since her return to the country in 1988 until she was freed last year.

Singh said "it has been a great honour, a great privilege" to interact with Suu Kyi.

The Prime Minister said India hopes that Suu Kyi "will play a defining role" in the national reconciliation and political reforms launched by Myanmar President Thein Sein.

Suu Kyi, on her part, said "we are pursuing our democratic goals on the basis of peace and stability".

She said the two countries have "learnt much from each other" and the "real friendship between them is the friendship between their people".