India was aloof in our hard days: Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday lauded visiting Aung San Suu Kyi for her "indomitable courage" during her struggle for democracy, Myanmar's iconic opposition leader said she was saddened that India had drawn away from them during their "very difficult days".

In impromptu remarks at the end of her speech at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture here, Suu Kyi said: "Since yesterday, I have heard two words, 'expectations' and 'disappointment', and I have thought about them very carefully." Expectations and disappointment, she said, are not something they should "indulge in". "I was saddened to see that we had drawn away from India, or India had drawn away from us during our very difficult days."

As Myanmar proceeds on the path towards democracy, Suu Kyi added, she hoped that the people of India would "stand by them" and "walk" with them.

However, the Myanmar National League for Democracy leader clarified, she always had "faith in the lasting friendship between our two countries, faith in the lasting friendship between our two people".

Stressing that "friendship between two countries should be friendship between people, and not friendship between the two governments", Suu Kyi told the audience comprising top Cabinet ministers, government officials and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, with Vice-President Hamid Ansari on the dais, that "governments come and go, and that's what democracy is all about".

As long as there is "understanding" and "mutual respect", friendship between the two countries will last, she said to a thunderous round of applause.

Emphasising that Myanmar had not yet achieved the goal of democracy, she said: "We hope that through this difficult last stage, the people of India will stand by us and walk by us as we proceed along the path which they had taken many years before."

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister met Suu Kyi at his Race Course Road residence for half-an-hour of talks, following which they met without aides.

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