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Pres. Lee pledges help to Myanmar in visit to Yangon

Posted May. 16, 2012 06:04,   

Updated January. 01, 1970 09:00


President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday said South Korea will help Myanmar achieve both democracy and economic development in a meeting with the Southeast Asian nation`s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in the country’s former capital of Yangon.

After the talks, he visited Martyr’s Mausoleum, a monument to Suu Kyi’s father and independence hero Gen. Aung San. The site was the scene of North Korea’s 1983 bombing that killed 17 South Korean government officials.

President Lee is the first South Korean head of state to visit Myanmar since the terrorist bombing 29 years ago. He said he hopes that both countries let go of the past and re-establish a bilateral relationship.

"I hope democratization and economic growth are achieved together in Myanmar," he said in a meeting with Suu Kyi at a hotel in downtown Yangon. In response, Suu Kyi said, "We want justice and freedom and we want prosperity. Not either or but all of it together."

On North Korea, President Lee repeatedly said, "Freedom is as equally important as bread in the 21st century." His comments Tuesday were aimed not only at helping Myanmar, which just started opening and freedom, but also targeted North Korea, which adheres to isolation and dictatorship.

"We would like the people of Myanmar to become happy and build the future of this country in the way that leader Suu Kyi would want," President Lee said. Suu Kyi said, "A genuine democracy can only come when the people are empowered, and the people are confident that their future lies in their own hands, not in the hands of those who are ruling them."

President Lee also visited the tomb of Suu Kyi`s father and the site of North Korean terrorist bombing. After paying tribute 5 meters near the bombing site, he said, "I hope that my visit could provide some sort of solace to the bereaved families of the victims, as this is the scene of an incident that should never happen again."