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Suu Kyi: It's Burma, not Myanmar

Friday 23 Nov 2012 5:38 a.m.

By 3 News online staff / RadioLIVE

Prime Minister John Key has met the celebrated democratic reformer Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader in Burma.

He gave her a case of golden kiwifruit and a triple koru greenstone pendant.

Ms Suu Kyi says she dreamed of coming to New Zealand during her 15 years under house arrest.

"The two countries that I would think about were Canada and New Zealand," she says,"because I thought those places were unpolluted areas and of course I have always thought that New Zealand was rather romantic - the land of the long cloud and so on. Not to mention the kiwifruit."

She also praised our system of government saying it "seems to me that the New Zealanders have a good control over the government, and I think that's a good idea… We hope ties between the two countries will be stronger as we proceed along the route to democracy."

Mr Key has also appeared alongside the country's President Thein Sein. He visited the president in his 100-room presidential palace.

Human rights and economic development dominated talks, and Mr Key says he is impressed with the pace of democratic changes taking place.

"On one level, if you think about what they've achieved in two years, the vast overwhelming bulk of political prisoners have been released, you've got a situation where there's now freedom of the press, and there a lot of other gains that have been made.

"But as we've said here in the past, it's not perfect."

Key's claim of freedom of the press is being questioned by many media observers, and Ms Suu Kyi says Burma is still "certainly not democratic".

"Things are not yet as they should be but everybody is trying to make sure that they go the right way.

"New Zealand should really insist that if Burma is to be a genuine democracy and if the 2015 elections are to be fair, as well as free then these necessary amendments will have to be made."

She also expressed disappointment with the New Zealand Government's decision to call her country Myanmar instead of Burma.

"I have made the point that Myanmar was imposed on this country without so much of a bye or leave to the people. The people were not asked what they thought of it. One day, in the state newspapers it was announced ... I think that it was imposed on this country in a totally undemocratic way.

"I still object to it. So I will always refer to this country as Burma, until the Burmese people decide what they want it to be called."

Mr Sein will visit New Zealand in December, and will tour a Fonterra plant in Wellington.

3 News

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