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Clinton challenges Burma on reforms

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met Burmese opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on a historic visit to the country.

The two women had a private dinner at the home of the top-ranking US diplomat in Burma before a more formal meeting at Ms Suu Kyi's residence on Friday.

It is the first time the pair - two of the world's most recognised female political figures - have met in person, though they have spoken by phone. Mrs Clinton has often referred to Ms Suu Kyi as a personal inspiration.

Mrs Clinton is in Burma to test the its new civilian government on its commitment to reforms that have prompted Ms Suu Kyi to participate in forthcoming elections.

She challenged the nation's leaders to expand upon recent reforms, end violent campaigns against ethnic minorities and break military ties with North Korea.

"We believe that any political prisoner anywhere should be released," she said. "One political prisoner is one too many in our view."

Meeting earlier with President Thein Sein and other senior government officials in the capital of Naypyidaw, Mrs Clinton offered a small package of rewards for steps the country has already taken but made clear that more must be done. She said the US was not ready to lift sanctions on the country.

She hand-delivered letters from President Barack Obama to Mr Thein Sein and Ms Suu Kyi which expressed hope that relations could further improve.

"I came to assess whether the time is right for a new chapter in our shared history," Clinton said, adding that the US was ready to further improve relations with the civilian government - but only if it stays on the path of democratisation.


From Belfast Telegraph