Suu Kyi, Thein Sein both to travel abroad

April 18, 2012 at 4:20 PM
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NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, April 18 (UPI) -- Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and pro-democracy leader, will leave Myanmar for the first time in 24 years, officials said.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said Suu Kyi was scheduled to visit the country in June and a spokesman for her party said she also would visit Britain, the BBC reported Wednesday.

In another sign that the country formerly known as Burma is becoming more open, President Thein Sein plans a five-day trip to Japan, The Wall Street Journal reported. The visit is the first to Japan by a Myanmar leader in almost 30 years and comes as Japanese businesses appear more interested in investing in Myanmar.

The president is expected to arrive in Japan Friday and meet Sunday with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

Fearing she would be barred from returning, Suu Kyi did not leave Myanmar to receive the Nobel Prize in 1991. She remained in her homeland in 1999 when her husband was dying of cancer in London.

Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest while Myanmar was ruled by a military junta. In November 2010, she was released from house arrest a week after the first polls in 20 years.

This month, Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy Party Elected swept into to Parliament in by-elections.

The exact dates of her travel have not been confirmed, the BBC said.

The military-backed civilian government elected in 2010 has undertaken a process of reforms that has, among other things, included the release of hundreds of political prisoners. Western governments have eased some of the sanctions imposed in response to the reforms, and have promised further easing of more restrictions if Myanmar maintains its movement toward democracy.

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