Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has met with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck in Berlin. The Nobel laureate will receive another award during her three-day trip to Germany.
Angela Merkel and Aung San Suu Kyi spoke briefly to reporters prior to their meeting on Thursday, without scheduling a full press conference after the talks.
Suu Kyi said the pair would have a "sisterhood" meeting, joking that the aim was, "to be politically correct, the sisterhood of men, rather than the blood brotherhood of men."
Merkel praised the opposition leader from the country formerly known as Burma, who "lived for an incredible time under house arrest and nevertheless did not give up her political convictions and ideals."
Merkel said she was keen to discuss ways to build a better future for people in Myanmar, especially "how we on the German side can help to be actively supportive of these developments."
Willy Brandt prize winner
The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate was welcomed to Berlin by President Joachim Gauck at the presidential palace, Schloss Bellevue. She lunched with Gauck and his partner, Daniela Schadt. Gauck held talks with Suu Kyi in Myanmar in February.
On Friday, Suu Kyi will receive the International Willy Brandt Prize - an award established in honor of the former German chancellor and given to people or institutions promoting international understanding between people.
Suu Kyi spent more than a decade under house arrest before being released by the former military government three years ago. Now a member of parliament, she is expected to run for the presidency in 2015, if a provision currently banning her candidacy is revoked.
Rohingya treatment in spotlight
The civil government led by ex-general Thein Sein is seeking democratic reforms, a move that has been recognized by the US and EU, who have eased sanctions on the country.
However, progress in some areas has been slow - with particular international criticism of the treatment of the minority Muslim Rohingya population, many of whom live in the western state of Rakhine - formerly known as Arakan. Almost all international aid workers left the region last month following attacks from the majority Rakhine Buddhist population, who accused them of siding with the Muslim population. Only a few offices have since been allowed to reopen.
US State Department official Daniel Russel met with Thein Sein in Myanmar on Thursday, calling for an immediate return of aid workers - especially from medical care providers Doctors Without Borders and Malteser International.
"The crux of my message was that the whole world is watching. And the responsibility rests with the central government to see to the security not only of the people in Rakhine state… but also the security of international aid workers," Russel said.
msh/dr (AFP, dpa, AP)