Myanmar's Suu Kyi to receive congressional medal-A A +A
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
WASHINGTON -- US lawmakers are setting aside party differences as they honor Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi with Congress' highest award.
The Nobel Peace laureate's struggle against military rule in the country also known as Burma is one that both Democrats and Republicans have united in championing over the years. Her landmark visit to the US offers a poignant opportunity Wednesday to present the Congressional Gold Medal that she was awarded in absentia in 2008, when she was still under house arrest in her country.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also planned to attend the ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda.
It was not clear whether Suu Kyi would meet with President Barack Obama, who was scheduled to spend a rare full day at the White House.
Suu Kyi began her 17-day US trip with a Tuesday meeting with Clinton at the State Department. Afterward, Suu Kyi said she would support the US easing its remaining economic sanctions on Myanmar — a step the Obama administration is considering.
Clinton expressed concern over the continued detention of political prisoners and ethnic violence in Myanmar and its military contacts with North Korea. But speculation is growing that the administration could announce an easing of its ban on imports from Myanmar when its president, Thein Sein, visits for the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York next week.
After long decrying Suu Kyi's treatment during her 15 years of house arrest, the US has been at the forefront of the movement to re-engage the former pariah state, which has opened up over the past two years since Suu Kyi's release. Thein Sein has eased draconian restrictions on the press and allowed Suu Kyi and her party to contest special elections in April.
In response, the US normalized diplomatic relations and in July allowed US companies to start investing in Myanmar again.
Congress in August renewed the import ban, but Obama could seek to waive its provisions.
Despite bitter political divisions, both parties in Congress have broadly supported the administration's steps to reward Myanmar for its shift from five decades of military rule. (AP)