Suu Kyi to address British parliament19/05/2012 - 08:44:41
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to make a historic address to both of the UK's Houses of Parliament as she ventures out of her country for the first time in more than two decades.
The rare honour was announced as David Cameron prepared to brief G8 leaders, meeting in Camp David, on his visit to Burma last month when he extended the invitation for her to come to the UK.
At the time, Ms Suu Kyi, who had previously been unwilling to leave for fear the country’s military rulers would not let her return, was cautious about accepting, replying simply “perhaps”.
However Downing Street has now confirmed that she will be making a week long visit commencing on June 18, which will include her address to MPs and peers at Westminster.
It is likely to be an emotional trip for Ms Suu Kyi – who has not been outside Burma since returning in 1988 – giving her the chance to be re-united with her sons and grandchildren whom she barely knows.
Since his visit, in the wake of elections which saw Ms Suu Kyi and other opposition supporters elected to the Burmese parliament, Mr Cameron has championed the suspension of international sanctions against the military regime, arguing the move towards democracy should be rewarded.
At the opening dinner tonight at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Mr Cameron is urging the other G8 leaders to make a strong political commitment to ensure the opening up of aid and trade benefits for all the Burmese people rather than a select few.
He will make clear, that as the world’s biggest bilateral aid donor to Burma, the UK has no plans to provide aid direct to the Burmese government until further progress on reform is made.
He will call for the creation of a commission for responsible investment in Burma that would establish principles that all businesses would be encouraged to sign up to when trading with or investing there.
The new body could bring together representatives from the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, international companies and key figures who campaign on human rights and business.
“For decades Burma has suffered under a brutal dictatorship. It is desperately poor. But it doesn’t have to be this way,” a No 10 spokesman said.
“There is a government there now that has started to take steps on the road to reform. The G8 needs to encourage that process so that we don’t lose the opportunity for change in Burma.
“We need to make sure that every pound of aid, every dollar of investment is spent for the benefit of the Burmese people.”