Felt sad at times but have to make allowances with friends: Suu Kyi

For someone who has had the toughest ordeal with her country's own military, Aung San Suu Kyi Saturday said her best military experience has come from the Indian Air Force — particularly, the two IAF pilots who flew her back from Delhi last month.

"They are the kind of professional military men I like to see. Very sweet, very, how should I say, so very soldierly in the best kind of way — officers and gentlemen, if I may say so," she said while recounting her most lasting memory from the Indian visit last month after her meeting with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid here.

Suu Kyi, it may be noted, continues to wage a battle against the military's grip over governance structures despite the 2010 elections and her subsequent release. She was earlier placed under house arrest for several years.

As for her complaints with India on its approach during her difficult days, her visit to India does seem to have had some positive impact. Suu Kyi, taking off on her remarks in Delhi, said though she was saddened then, she does not harbour any misgivings. "I have said there were times when I felt sad but you have to make allowances with friends. If you are fond of your friends you have to accept that sometimes you go a bit astray, sometimes they go a bit astray. And that's no reason for the friendship to suffer."

While willing to not let the past come in the way, she did make it clear to Khurshid during their 40-minute meeting that India needs to reassess its project investment in Myanmar. Rather than going for long-term projects like building large-scale infrastructure like the Tamanti Hydel power project, she was of the view that India must invest in people-centric ventures that will have immediate impact.

She is learnt to have given two examples — the first was on opening a children's hospital. While many countries are willing to help with capacity building like training nurses, there is still no taker for rebuilding the hospital itself. She told Khurshid that slums have begun to mushroom in the hospital's premises and made the case for a country like India to actively consider rebuilding the hospital first.

The second example she gave was of schools. She said India could step in and improve basic schooling here.

In the same vein, sources said, she spoke about assistance for the new Parliament. While countries like India are willing to offer training courses for Parliament staff, Suu Kyi said there are more immediate requirements like setting up a reference library for proper Parliament function. She, incidentally, heads the Parliamentary committee responsible for its upgrade.

The subtlety of the difference in approach from the government was not lost on the Indian side. During his meeting with Myanmar's political leadership in Nay Pi Taw, Khurshid was asked if India would step up the pace on hydel projects, particularly increase the capacity of the Tamanti project.

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