Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is 'happy; that the United States is lifting sanctions on her country as she feels her countrymen should now take responsibility for its democratisation, a process she sees as a 'common goal' with President Thein Sein.
Suu Kyi, who is on a landmark visit to the US that has included meetings with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, met United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday.
Later briefly addressing the media with Ban, Suu Kyi noted she was 'very happy' to have met Obama and said she had a 'good meeting' with him. She, however, did not divulge details of her interaction with the US President.
The US had announced on Friday it is lifting sanctions on Myanmar President Thein Sein and parliamentary speaker Thura Shwe Mann as the US Congress honoured Suu Kyi with the highest civilian honour at a ceremony in Washington.
The US treasury department acknowledged steps taken by Sein and Mann to promote political reforms and human rights and take Myanmar away from repression toward democracy.
"I am happy that sanctions are now being lifted because as I have been saying -- rather ad nauseum -- it is time now that the Burmese people took responsibility for their democratisation of the country," she said in response to a question on the US decision to lift sanctions on Myanmar.
Suu Kyi expressed appreciation for the support the US Congress has shown towards her country but added that now it is up to the people of her country to take the nation forward.
"I am very, very appreciative of what the US Congress has done for many years to support our movement, but now we have to try to work on our own, of course, with the continuing support and help of friends," she said.
Suu Kyi's visit to the US will coincide with a visit by Sein who arrives in New York to participate in the 67th session of the General Assembly next week.
When asked if her visit and her work for democracy will outshine the president, Suu Kyi said the work both of them are doing in putting Myanmar back on the road to democracy should not be thought of in terms of personalities.
"I think we should think about it as a common goal. If we all want to achieve genuine democracy for Burma, we have to learn to work together and not think about our impact as personalities, either in our country or in the world at large," she said.
The Nobel laureate's visit to the UN coincided with the International Day of Peace, during which the UN calls for complete cessation of hostilities around the world.
Suu Kyi stressed that peace cannot be achieved unless everyone tries their best to remove hatred from the hearts of human beings. "I think peace begins in the hearts of people. So, if we want peace, we've got to remove hatred. There can be no peace with hatred. Only without hatred can we achieve peace," she said.
Suu Kyi returned to the UN headquarters after nearly 40 years. She had worked here from 1969 to 1971. She said the UN headquarters had changed a lot over the years.
"I don't recognise the place (the UN). I'm told that this (venue of her press interaction) wasn't here when I was working at the United Nations, but I'm very, very glad to be back," she said.
Ban said he discussed with Suu Kyi on how the UN, the Myanmar government and she as a political leader can work together for democratisation.
During his visit to Myanmar in early May, Ban discussed with President Sein ways to help his government. Ban said the areas of cooperation 'are on track', including normalisation of the United Nations' activities in the country, helping the first-ever census of population and housing, as well as helping the nation eliminate drugs and promote socio-economic development.
"This will be our continuing priority to work with the Myanmar government. In that, we count on Daw Aung Suu Kyi's continuing commitment and leadership, and we have great expectations of your leadership," Ban said, adding the UN and Suu Kyi must work together for Myanmar's democratisation.
Ban also recalled that he was given a warm reception by Suu Kyi when he visited Myanmar and had discussed the possibility of her visiting the United Nations, which Ban described as her 'home'.
The UN chief said the international community has 'great expectations' from Suu Kyi and expressed hope that she would lead the path of reconciliation and greater participatory democracy and development of her country with Sein.
Sein and Suu Kyi have been 'walking together down the path of reconciliation and political stability and democracy and human rights, and I really count on her continuing support,' the UN Chief said.
Ban expressed gratitude for Suu Kyi's participation in the global Education First initiative, which he will launch next week.
Image: Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon