U.S. President Barack Obama Monday lauded the courage of fellow Nobel Peace laureate and Myanmarese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has relentlessly fought for establishing democracy in the former pariah country.
In his historic visit to Myanmar -- the first ever by a serving U.S. president, Obama met Suu Kyi at her lakeside villa in Yangon.
"Here, through so many difficult years, is where she has displayed such unbreakable courage and determination," Obama told reporters as Suu Kyi looked on. "It is here that she has human freedom and human dignity cannot be denied."
Suu Kyi has spearheaded the struggle against the five decade-long military rule even as the former military junta persecuted her, keeping her under house arrest for most of the years in the past five decades. Myanmar, also known as Burma, has remained a reclusive state after being cut-off from the rest of the world following the Western sanctions on it.
The persistent efforts by pro-democracy activists and Suu Kyi forced the military regime to hold elections in 2010. The Thein Sein government, which assumed office following the elections, has initiated a democratic process which many critics consider “modest.”
As a part of the process, the government released Suu Kyi -- touted as the icon of democracy -- from her house arrest and welcomed her to the mainstream politics. The political reforms got the momentum with Suu Kyi and her opposition party contesting the elections and entering the parliament last year.
The U.S. and the West reciprocated the pro-democratic developments by removing some of the economic sanctions on Myanmar.
Obama lauded the country for embracing democracy and promised further economic support if the country went ahead with more reforms.
However, Suu Kyi, during her meeting with the Obama, stressed on the need for a cautious approach towards progress.
"The most difficult time in any transition is when we think 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 toward its genuine success for our people and friendship between our two countries," she said, according to a CNN report.
Before meeting Suu Kyi, Obama had an hour-long meeting with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein. They discussed the progress in bilateral relations.
After his six-hour visit to Myanmar, Obama left to Cambodia where he was scheduled to participate in the ASEAN summit.