Updated: 04/11/2014 00:52 | By Agence France-Presse

Suu Kyi in Germany hopes Myanmar can overcome strife

Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi said on a trip to Germany Thursday that she hoped her country could also overcome its internal divisions amid deadly Buddhist-Muslim strife.

Suu Kyi in Germany hopes Myanmar can overcome strife

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is greeted by German chancellor Angela Merkel (R) at the Chancellory in Berlin, on April 10, 2014 - by Ronny Hartmann

Suu Kyi, 68, said ahead of her first face-to-face talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Myanmar sought the support of "all countries that believe in democracy" as it makes it transition from iron-fisted military rule.

"For me Berlin is not just a symbol of success in development but success in political negotiation, a success in achieving unity," Suu Kyi, who has said she is considering a bid for the presidency next year, told reporters.

"Because our country, Burma, is a union and we would like it to be a truly democratic union," she said, where it is possible for "our people to overcome all differences that may exist between us and be the kind of nation that will ensure security, freedom and hope for all of us who live there."

Myanmar, formerly called Burma, has been shaken by religious unrest in recent years with at least 250 people killed in Buddhist-Muslim clashes since 2012.

Its reformist government promised Wednesday to protect international aid groups targeted by Buddhist mobs in the violence-torn western region of Rakhine, after criticism from foreign governments and the United Nations.

Merkel welcomed Suu Kyi's active role in Myanmar politics and said Germany, which this year celebrates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, was willing to offer assistance to the country "on its path to a better future".

She said Suu Kyi had "experienced an unbelievable time under house arrest and nevertheless never gave up her ideals and convictions".

"I am pleased of course that Aung San Suu Kyi, despite this difficult time, decided to play a key political role in the transformation of her country," Merkel said.

The Nobel Peace laureate is on a European tour that will also take in France. 

German media reports noted that the visit was seen in Berlin as an important step toward improving relations between Germany and Myanmar following Suu Kyi's reported displeasure over German diplomatic dealings with the former military junta.

Suu Kyi met earlier with President Joachim Gauck, a former East German democracy activist, and was to hold talks with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

She will on Friday accept the Willy Brandt prize from the co-ruling Social Democratic Party, named for the late West German chancellor and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner and honouring work for democracy, freedom and human rights.

Suu Kyi has expressed a readiness to take on the presidency if her National League for Democracy party wins key parliamentary elections due in 2015.

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