Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) -
Myanmar's pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi began a 17-day tour
of the United States today where she will meet high-ranking US government
officials as well as major Burmese exiles and dissidents.
Her first stop is in
Washington where she is expected to talk with officials at the State Department
and the White House, including a possible meeting with US President Barack Obama.
Talks are expected to centre
on recent political and social reforms launched by the Burmese government as
well as the possibility of lifting US sanctions against the former Burma.
The fate of the Southeast
Asian country's Rohingya Muslim minority, which has suffered ethnic-religious
persecution for months, should also be discussed.
In the US capital, the Nobel
Prize laureate will receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest
civilian honour in the US, which she was awarded in 2008 when she was under
Aung San Suu Kyi will then travel to New
York, where she lived between 1969 and 1971, followed by the Midwest and
finally San Francisco, California, home to a large community of Burmese exiles.
Since her release in
November 2010, Myanmar has undertaken a long process of democratic reforms
after decades of military dictatorship, a transition that has led the peace
prize winner to parliament.
However, there are still
many critics among dissidents and opposition figures, for whom the changes are
only superficial since the top leaders of the armed forces remain the real powerbrokers.
Recently, US President
Barack Obama and his administration began lifting some trade sanctions, a
process that should now be complete.
On the eve of her departure,
opposition National League for Democracy spokesman Nyan Win, said that Suu Kyi
would she would use "this opportunity" to "talk at least about the reforms
situation in Myanmar".
Another hot topic on the
agenda is the fate of minority Rohingya, victim of military-backed Buddhist
persecution in the western state of Rakhine.
In the recent past, Myanmar's
main opposition leader took a prudent stance on ethnic conflicts and the issue of
citizenship for the Muslim group. Asked in June
whether Rohingya should be regarded as Burmese citizens, she said, "I do
Last week the US embassy in Yangon
expressed its "great concern" at the humanitarian situation in Rakhine state.