Top Indian diplomat meets Myanmar's Suu Kyi
India, once a staunch backer of Aung San Suu Kyi before it began wooing Myanmar's military rulers in the 1990s, has had its first top-level contact with the pro-democracy icon since her release last year.delhi Updated: Jun 23, 2011 16:15 IST
India, once a staunch backer of Aung San Suu Kyi before it began wooing Myanmar's military rulers in the 1990s, has had its first top-level contact with the pro-democracy icon since her release last year.
A foreign ministry official told AFP that foreign secretary Nirupama Rao had met briefly with Suu Kyi in Yangon earlier this week.
The official said the 45-minute meeting on Monday had been kept under wraps until the visiting Indian delegation, headed by foreign minister SM Krishna, ended its Myanmar visit on Wednesday.
Krishna did not meet with Suu Kyi, 66, who was freed from long-term house arrest shortly after elections in November that resulted in a handover of power from the junta to a nominally civilian government.
A spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party said the talks had included Rao and three other members of the foreign minister's delegation.
"The Indians talked about their aims and reasons for the current cooperation between the governments of India and Myanmar in economic, social and educational areas," spokesman Ohn Kyaing said.
For her part, Suu Kyi reminisced about her time living in India in the 1980s and "told them she has been striving for democracy in Myanmar," he added.
India has come under increasing international pressure over its Myanmar policy since it hosted military ruler Than Shwe in July last year for a state visit that underscored the growing strategic ties between the world's largest democracy and one of its most repressive regimes.
During a speech to India's parliament in October, visiting US President Barack Obama chided New Delhi for not speaking out over human rights abuses in Myanmar.
And in December, the newly-released Suu Kyi gave an interview to an Indian newspaper in which she said she was "saddened" by India's lack of support.
"I do not oppose relations with the generals but I hope that the Indian government would talk to us as well," she said.
India began engaging with the Myanmar junta in the mid-1990s over security and energy issues and as a counter to China's growing strategic influence in the Southeast Asian nation.
Beijing, a long-time ally of the junta, has shielded the country from UN sanctions over rights abuses as a veto-wielding, permanent member of the Security Council.