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Sister act: Clinton-Suu Kyi talk democracy, books and more

Last updated on: December 2, 2011 14:13 IST

Sister act: Clinton-Suu Kyi talk democracy, books and more

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Meetings with Myanmar's pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi were the highlight of United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's three-day historic visit to the country. On Thursday, the pair met in person for the first time and they met again on Friday where they bonded over books, Burmese delicacies and, most importantly, democracy.

Wrapping up a historic three-day visit to Myanmar, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday, this time for a more formal meeting as compared to their encounter on Thursday.

Clinton greeted the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and kissed her on both cheeks as the top US diplomat arrived at the crumbling lakeside mansion in Yangon where Suu Kyi spent most of the past two decades as a prisoner in her own home.

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Image: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi attend a dinner at the US Chief of Mission residence in Yangon
Photographs: Reuters
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Sister act: Clinton-Suu Kyi talk democracy, books and more

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"It is just a great honour for me not only to be here but to see all of you," Clinton told Suu Kyi and her staff after the warm welcome at the mansion.

Two of the world's most recognisable women leaders pledged on Friday to work together to bring democracy to Myanmar. Holding hands with Suu Kyi, Clinton thanked her for her "steadfast and very clear leadership."


Image: Clinton and Suu Kyi bond over dinner on Thursday
Photographs: Reuters
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Sister act: Clinton-Suu Kyi talk democracy, books and more

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"You have been an inspiration but I know that you feel you are standing for all the people of your country who deserve the same rights and freedoms as people everywhere," Clinton told Suu Kyi. "The people have been courageous and strong in the face of great difficulty over too many years. We want to see this country take its rightful place in the world."

After her talks with Clinton, Suu Kyi has said she is hopeful that Myanmar can get onto "the road to democracy", reports BCC. "I am very confident that if we work together... there will be no turning back from the road to democracy." But she added that the country was "not on that road yet".


Image: Clinton and Suu Kyi at the US Chief of Mission residence
Photographs: Reuters
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Sister act: Clinton-Suu Kyi talk democracy, books and more

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Clinton, who is the first US state secretary to visit Myanmar in 50 years, was to tour Suu Kyi's home after the talks and meet members of the latter's National League for Democracy, representatives of ethnic groups, and civil society organisations, the US State Department said.

Friday's meeting was the second for the two leaders who appeared to have bonded in Yangon on Thursday over a wide-ranging discussion that covered matters ranging from books to political candidacy. They then retired for private one-one dinner on a veranda overlooking a lake, dining on curry and Burmese delicacies at the US Chief of Mission residence in Yangon.


Image: Clinton has often referred to Suu Kyi as a personal inspiration
Photographs: Reuters
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Sister act: Clinton-Suu Kyi talk democracy, books and more

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Clinton's meetings with Suu Kyi were the highlight of the US secretary of state's visit to the long-isolated country where she aims to urge democratic reforms. Their interactions assume importance as the Nobel Peace Prize winner intends to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections with her newly registered political party. 

"The new civilian government must expand recent reforms, including the release of political prisoners, to improve relations as it emerges from more than a half-century of repressive military rule. We believe that any political prisoner anywhere should be released," Clinton told reporters Thursday. "One political prisoner is one too many in our view."


Image: Suu Kyi and Clinton embrace after their meeting at Suu Kyi's residence laying out a framework for reforms
Photographs: Reuters
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Sister act: Clinton-Suu Kyi talk democracy, books and more

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On Thursday, Clinton met Myanmar President Thein Sein, a former general and top leader.

The pair discussed upgrading diplomatic ties, and the US said it would support some modest changes in Burma's relationship with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.



Photographs: Getty Images
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Sister act: Clinton-Suu Kyi talk democracy, books and more

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Clinton invited the foreign minister to visit Washington and he accepted, but no date was set, the State Department official said.

In meetings with top Myanmar officials in the capital of Naypyidaw, Clinton said the country's leaders must end violent campaigns against ethnic minorities and break military ties with North Korea.



Image: Clinton and Suu Kyi share a joke after their talks on Friday
Photographs: Getty Images
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