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Myanmar's Suu Kyi Travels Abroad For First Time In Decades


Aung San Suu Kyi meets with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Yangon on May 29.
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has left Myanmar for the first time in more than two decades.

Suu Kyi, who spent most of the past 24 years under house arrest by Myanmar's military regime, arrived in the Thai capital, Bangkok, after an 85-minute flight.

She will spend several days in Thailand, where she is due to speak at a World Economic Forum meeting about East Asia on June 1.

She will then travel in mid-June to Europe, where in Norway she will formally accept the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded 21 years ago, but never traveled to Oslo to receive.

Until now, Suu Kyi had refused to leave Myanmar during her brief periods of freedom, fearing the ruling generals would not allow her to return.

Myanmar in recent months has been emerging from international isolation as a new government moves toward reforms after elections 18 months ago.

Easing Of Sanctions

The reforms the government embarked upon have led to an easing of the international sanctions imposed on Myanmar during the country's five decades of military rule.

Suu Kyi is now a lawmaker after winning a seat in parliament in an election earlier this year.

The daughter of the leader of Myanmar's campaign for independence from British rule, General Aung San, she had spent most of her early years abroad.

She returned to Myanmar in 1988 to take care of her dying mother, but soon took a leading role of the pro-democracy movement. She was first put under house arrest in 1989.

Fearing the generals would not let her return, she refused to leave Myanmar even to be with her British husband before his death from cancer in 1999.

During her upcoming trip abroad, Suu Kyi is also expected to travel to Geneva for an International Labor Organization conference, and will also visit Britain, where she has been invited to address both houses of parliament.

Before leaving Yangon on May 29, Suu Kyi was met India's visiting prime minister.

Manmohan Singh is the first Indian prime minister to visit neighboring Myanmar in 25 years.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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