YANGON, Myanmar, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Difficult times lie ahead for Myanmar as it transitions to democracy, one-time political prisoner and now national lawmaker Aung San Suu Kyi said Monday.
Suu Kyi spoke about Myanmar, once known as Burma, during a media opportunity with U.S. President Barack Obama at her home where she was held as a political prisoner for nearly 16 years. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while incarcerated.
"The United States has been staunch in its support of the democracy movement in Burma, and we are confident that this support will continue through the difficult years that lie ahead," she said. "I say difficult because the most difficult time in any transition is when we think that success is in sight. Then we have to be very careful that we are not lured by a mirage of success and that we are working to a genuine success for our people and for the friendship between our two countries."
The visit by Obama, the first by any U.S. president, to the country means "the relations between our countries can only progress in the right direction, Suu Kyi said.
Obama said he was proud to be the first U.S. president to visit Myanmar, "and I am very pleased that one of my first stops is to visit with an icon of democracy who has inspired so many people not just in this country but all around the world."
He thanked Suu Kyi for welcoming him into her home "where she displayed such unbreakable courage and determination ... [and] where she showed that human freedom and dignity cannot be denied."
Obama traveled to Myanmar from Thailand. His next stop is Cambodia, where he was scheduled to attend the U.S.-ASEAN leaders meeting and participate in the East Asian Summit.
While in Thailand, Obama said Suu Kyi was a principal force in fighting for democracy, speaking out against the military dictators who ruled the country from 1962 until last year when the civilian government of President Thein Sein took over. Since then, the new government has introduced a number of democratic and other reforms.
The reforms earned praise from Western leaders such as Obama, whose administration has eased the tough sanctions against Myanmar. The United States also has improved diplomatic relations with Myanmar to ambassadorial level.