WASHINGTON - Opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi sought Tuesday to reassure China that Myanmar’s warming relations with the United States were not at its expense and signaled she was open to an end to US sanctions. In her first substantive comments on a landmark trip to the United States, the Nobel Peace laureate said she did not want US engagement with Myanmar to be seen as “hostile” to China, the main ally of her country’s former junta. Suu Kyi, addressing the US Institute of Peace and Asia Society, said it was a “natural question” whether the United States was focusing on the nation formerly known as Burma in a bid to contain the influence of China.
But Suu Kyi said: “It does not mean that because the United States is engaging with Burma it should in any way be seen as a hostile step toward China.” “We can use our new situation to strengthen relations between all three countries,” she said. “For us to put it very simply, it would be to our advantage for the United States and China to establish friendly relations. This would help us a great deal,” she said. Suu Kyi also indicated that she was willing to see an end to US sanctions on Myanmar. The opposition leader supported restrictions in hopes of pressuring the military regime which nominally disbanded last year. “For my part, I don’t think we need to cling onto sanctions unnecessarily,” Suu Kyi said. “We have to build our own democracy for ourselves and we would like US-Burma relations to be founded firmly on the recognition of the need of our own people to be accountable for their own destiny,” she said.