India on Saturday hailed the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi by Myanmar's military government and termed it as a step towards national reconciliation.
"India welcomes the release of Suu Kyi. We hope that this will be the beginning of the process of reconciliation in Myanmar," external affairs minister SM Krishna said hours within the release of the 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose latest period of detention spanned seven-and-a-half years.
Suu Kyi has been jailed or kept under house arrest for more than 15 of the last 21 years. Krishna said the recent elections in Myanmar are an important step in the direction of the national reconciliation process being undertaken by the military government.
"We have always encouraged them to take this process forward in a broad-based and inclusive manner.
In this context, as a close neighbour of Myanmar, we are confident that the release of Suu Kyi will contribute to efforts for a more inclusive approach to political change and reforms," he told reporters.
The statement comes against the backdrop of US President Barack Obama criticising India for not speaking against human rights violation in Myanmar.
India maintains that its position on Myanmar, which is strategically located in the region, was propelled by the national interest.