Suu Kyi to visit UK on first trip abroad in 24 years

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to visit Britain on her first trip abroad in 24 years in June.

A spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy said she will also visit Norway.

She has previously told visiting Norwegian ministers that if she ever travels abroad, Norway would be her first destination.

Aung San Suu Kyi plans to visit the two countries as part of her first trip outside Burma since 1988, her party said yesterday, in the latest sign of her confidence in the country’s reforms.

The Nobel Laureate, who was elected to parliament in landmark Apr 1 by-elections, will embark on the international trip in mid-June, said a party spokesman.

“She is also hoping to go to other countries,” said Nyan Win, adding the trip would last about seven days.

“It will be her first trip since 1988, when she returned to Myanmar,” he said, referring to the year that Suu Kyi was thrust into the limelight during a trip to her homeland to care for her sick mother.

He said the visit to Britain, where she lived for years with her husband and two sons, will include a trip to Oxford, her former university town.

The Norwegian foreign ministry yesterday announced that Suu Kyi would travel to Oslo to accept in person the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize she won for her peaceful struggle for democracy.

Suu Kyi, who is expected to take her seat in the lower house of parliament on Apr 23, is thought to have had any restrictions on her foreign travel lifted with her election, and has applied for a passport.

The 66-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate has not left Burma since she returned from Britain to visit her ailing mother in 1988 because of fears she would not be allowed back in.

The announcement comes after last week’s visit to Burma by British prime minister David Cameron.

The daughter of national independence hero Aung San has spent 15 years under house arrest. For most of that time, she was separated from her husband Michael Aris and their two children, who still live abroad.

In 1999, Suu Kyi refused to leave Burma to visit Aris as he was dying because of concerns that the former ruling junta would not allow her back.

During a brief visit to Burma on Friday, Cameron invited Suu Kyi to visit, saying it would be a sign of progress if she were able to leave and then return to carry out her duties as an MP.

Suu Kyi replied that “two years ago I would have said thank you for the invitation, but sorry. But now I am able to say perhaps, and that’s great progress.”

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in Nov 2010, shortly after elections that saw a transition from military to civilian rule. Since then the military-backed civilian government has embarked on a process of reform that has seen hundreds of political prisoners freed.

The NLD — which boycotted the 2010 polls because of election laws it said were unfair — has now rejoined the political process.

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