US honors Suu Kyi as sanctions removed

US honors Suu Kyi as sanctions removed

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
US honors Suu Kyi as sanctions removed

US President Barack Obama (R) meets with Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office. They are both Nobel Peace Price winners. AP photo

The United States lifted sanctions on two of Myanmar’s top leaders as the Congress hailed Aung San Suu Kyi as a hero of democracy in a lavish ceremony unthinkable only months ago.

“This is one of the most moving days in my life,” said Suu Kyi, who modestly described herself as “a stranger from a distant land,” as she was handed the award.

The move to end the sanctions on Myanmar President Thein Sein and parliamentary speaker Thura Shwe Mann came Sept. 19, just hours after Suu Kyi had called for U.S. sanctions crippling her nation to be lifted. “There will be difficulties in the way ahead, but I’m confident that we shall be able to overcome all obstacles with the help and support of our friends,” she said. Suu Kyi also met President Barack Obama for the first time, after being presented with the Congressional Gold Medal in the imposing surroundings of the historical Rotunda on Capitol Hill. The White House said Obama reaffirmed U.S. support for political and economic reforms in Myanmar, and full protection of human rights, in order to shape “a more peaceful, free and prosperous future” for the country.

‘Kyi’s work just began’

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Suu Kyi’s work was just beginning as she helps build democracy in Myanmar.

“The United States will stand with her, with the president of Burma and those who are reformers... as they fan the flickers of democratic progress and press forward with reform,” the top U.S. diplomat vowed. The U.S. began rolling back its economic embargo in July, opening Myanmar up to U.S. investment.