Suu Kyi heading on first diplomatic tour of Australia

Suu Kyi heading on first diplomatic tour of Australia

Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will fly to Australia later this month for her first diplomatic tour of the country, where she will meet with political leaders and members of the Burmese diaspora.

Suu Kyi will travel to Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne from 27 November to 2 December and attend a number of public events, including a UN sponsored HIV conference.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is an ambassador for Burma Campaign Australia and first met the democracy icon in 1995, said she was thrilled.

“Australia has long been a staunch supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi’s efforts to bring democracy to the Burmese people,” Bishop said in a statement on Tuesday.

The news comes on the same week that Australia pledged to step up its engagement with Burma, including offering scholarships to Burmese university students.

President Thein Sein on Tuesday welcomed the Honorable Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia to Naypyidaw, where they discussed Burma’s political reforms and bilateral development cooperation.

Australia has gradually begun easing its economic sanctions against Burma, in recognition of its democratic reform programme which has seen thousands of political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, released from jail.

The Nobel laureate, who has since taken a seat in parliament representing the National League for Democracy, accepted an invitation to Australia in June at the request of then Foreign Minister Bob Carr.

Australia is home to thousands of Burmese migrants and refugees, who have fled violence and persecution in their home country over the past five decades. Hundreds, mostly Rohingya Muslims, continue to make the perilous journey by sea, despite a new government policy to turn all boat arrivals away.

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