WASHINGTON — Myanmar's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, began her first visit to the United States in four decades by urging Washington to begin lifting remaining economic sanctions, which she credited for helping pressure the authoritarian government to allow vastly greater freedoms.
"I think our people must start to take responsibility for our own destiny," Suu Kyi said to a packed auditorium at the U.S. Institute of Peace after she met Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department. "We should not depend on U.S. sanctions to keep up the momentum for democracy."
Clinton warmly introduced and embraced Suu Kyi before the speech, her first public appearance on a 17-day visit to the United States.
Suu Kyi's release from 15 years under house arrest in November 2010, and her election in April to parliament, were key factors in the White House decision to begin to ease unilateral sanctions in May and to step up engagement with the nominally civilian government.
Suu Kyi previously had urged the Obama administration to wait for signs that the new rulers of Myanmar, also known as Burma, were fully committed to democratic reforms.
"We are not yet at the end of our struggle," she said. "But we are getting there."