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Suu Kyi departs for Europe amid tensions

Presidential adviser hopes trip will help bolster reform efforts

John Zaw, Mandalay

June 13, 2012

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Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will depart today for Europe amid ongoing turmoil in Rakhine state that some fear could destabilize democratic reform efforts. “Aung San Suu Kyi leaves for Switzerland this morning. She will give a speech at the International Labor Conference in Geneva and then proceed to Norway, Ireland, Britan and France,” said National League for Democracy spokesman Ohn Kyaing. Ko Ko Hlaing, an adviser to President Thein Sein, told yesterday that he hoped Suu Kyi’s trip abroad would help fortify reform efforts at home. “I hope that Suu Kyi’s trip to Europe will bring much help for Myanmar’s democratization.” The adviser downplayed the impact of tensions in Rakhine state and previous speculation that Suu Kyi’s trip to Thailand last month had created a rift in relations between her and the president. “Everyone may have different opinions according to democracy,” Ko Ko Hlaing said. Dr Aye Maung, chairman of the Rakhines Nationalities Development Party, said the trip to Europe could help peace efforts in Rakhine state. “By going abroad, Suu Kyi will be able to reveal the reality of the situation in Myanmar to the international community.” Tensions remain high in Rakhine state in the wake of violent unrest, with hundreds seeking shelter in makeshift camps in mosques and monasteries to escape the violence. Related reports Suu Kyi calls Thailand trip a 'success'
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