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Suu Kyi to meet with Obama, receive highest congressional honor

September 19, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's opposition leader and general secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), meets with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's opposition leader and general secretary… (Michael Reynolds / European…)

President Obama will meet Wednesday with Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi, the White House said.

The human rights advocate and member of the Myanmar National Assembly is visiting the U.S. for the first time in two decades, after a lengthy series of house arrests from 1989 to 2010. Her tour includes a meeting with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and leaders on the Hill, who will award her the Congressional Gold Medal.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was initially awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008 during a house arrest imposed by Myanmar’s military junta. The Gold Medal is the highest honor awarded by Congress.

Obama views Suu Kyi as "somebody who has been a remarkable beacon for democratic reform in her country and for her people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday, announcing the meeting.

The visit with Obama is part of Suu Kyi’s 17-day tour of the U.S., during which she will serve as an emissary for her home country as it transitions toward a more open political framework under President Thein Sein.

Clinton, who met with Suu Kyi in Myanmar Tuesday, praised the country for its steady reforms, but advised Myanmar to “guard against backsliding, because there are forces that would take the country in the wrong direction if given the chance.”

Since Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest in 2010, relations between the U.S. and Myanmar have steadily normalized, and in July the Obama administration allowed U.S. companies to participate in business with the country.

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kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

Twitter: @khennessey

Morgan Little contributed to this report.

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