PM Manmohan Singh carried out a major course correction in India’s foreign policy when he reached out to Nobel laureate and Myanmar’s champion of democracy Aung San Suu Kyi at a meeting in Yangon. During the hour-long meeting at the Sedon Hotel, the two leaders discussed at length Myanmar’s ongoing political transformation. Later, Singh handed over to Suu Kyi a letter from Congress president Sonia Gandhi, inviting her to deliver the next Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture. Suu Kyi said she was “gratified” by India’s invitation and expressed hope that she would be able to take it up “before too long”. She added, however, that it was more important that there were more exchanges between the people of the two countries. “As I said to the prime minister, true friendship between the countries can be based only on friendship between our peoples, and this is what I hope we will be able to achieve,” she said. Singh said, “I have learnt a great deal about what empowerment is after meeting her.” He added that India was looking at Suu Kyi playing a defining role in the country’s ongoing national reconciliation. Suu Kyi added , “I am very happy at the prospect of closer ties with India because I think we have much to learn from one another and we have much to contribute to peace and stability in this region…”
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party swept the recent byelections after which she took over as the leader of opposition. India’s decision to court the junta regime earlier, mainly to tame insurgent groups in the north-east and engage the resource-rich country economically, had led her to criticize New Delhi for being driven only by economic considerations in its Myanmar policy.