Rangoon, Burma (Dec. 2, 2011) —Burma’s recently freed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at her residence in Rangoon this week. She held a press conference with Clinton prior to their private dinner and her remarks were transcribed by the U.S. State Department.
MS. KYI: “(I would like) to welcome Secretary Clinton to my country and to my home. It’s, I think, a historical moment for both our countries because we hope that from this meeting, we will be able to proceed to us renewing the ties of friendship and understanding that bound our countries together since independence.
There has been times when that tie has weakened, but I don’t think it was ever really broken. And we hope that from now on, not only will the understanding and friendship between our two countries be reestablished and strengthened, but we will bring in also other members of the international community who share our commitment to human dignity, to peace, to democratic institutions, and to sustainable development.
We are so happy that Secretary Clinton had very good meetings at Nay Pyi Taw, and we are happy with the way in which the United States is engaging with us. It is through engagement that we hope to promote the process of democratization.
Because of this engagement, I think our way ahead will be clearer, and we will be able to trust that the process of democratization will go forward. For this, we do need the help not just of the United States, but of other members of the international community. We need capacity-building in Burma, we need technical assistance, we are very eager that the time will come soon when the World Bank can send in an assessment team to find out what it is that our country really needs.
Before we decide what steps to take, we have to find out what our greatest needs are. And of course, two of the greatest needs of this country are rule of law and a cessation to civil war. All hostilities must cease within this country as soon as possible. That will really build up ethnic harmony and peace and a union that is prosperous and stable.
Now, when I say rule of law, I must mention that rule of law is essential to prevent more prisoner – political prisoners from appearing in Burma. First of all, we need all those who are still in prison to be released, and we need to ensure that no more are arrested in future for their beliefs.
This is why we put so much emphasis on rule of law, and I am confident that the United States and our other friends will help us in our endeavors to bring rule of law to this country, and also in our endeavors to help our country to develop its educational and health facilities, which are the basic needs of all our peoples.
Whatever we do in the predominantly Burmese areas, we hope to be matched by similar programs and projects in the ethnic nationality areas, because we are a union of many peoples. And in a union of many peoples, there must be equality. There must be consideration for those who are in gracious need. And to that end, we look to our friends from all over the world to help us to meet the needs of the people of our country.
I am very confident that if we all work together – and by “we,” I mean the Government of Burma, the opposition in Burma, our friends from the United States and all over the world who are committed to the same values – if we go forward together, I am confident that there will be no turning back from the road towards democracy. We are not on that road yet, but we hope to get there as soon as possible with the help and understanding of our friends.
I was very pleased to read today that the Chinese foreign ministry said – put out a statement welcoming the engagement of the United States and Burma. This shows that we have the support of the whole world. And I’m particularly pleased because we hope to maintain good, friendly relations with China, our very close neighbor – and not just with China, but with the rest of the world.
I would like to thank – end with a last note of thanks, a word of thanks to President Obama and to the United States of America for working so closely with us throughout, consulting us along each step of the way, and for the careful and collaborated way in which they are approaching engagement in this country. This will be the beginning of a new future for all of us, provided we can maintain it, and we hope to be able to do so.”