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Suu Kyi meets British PM before flying to Washington

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Burma's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi pose for a photo outside 10 Downing Street on 13 September 2016. (Photo: State Counsellor's Office / Facebook)

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, on the final day of a visit to the United Kingdom ahead of a trip to Washington that is expected to focus on the issue of remaining US sanctions on Burma.

At her meeting with the Burmese leader at the Prime Minister’s Office, May welcomed Suu Kyi to the UK for her first visit outside of Asia since her National League for Democracy’s historic election victory last November and pledged continued support for Burma’s transition to democracy.

According to a statement released after the meeting, the prime minister said her government “stood ready to provide further assistance as Burma continues to develop, including through £118 million (US$156 million) in support this year.”

Although no mention of trade or investment was made in the statement, it said that the two leaders discussed the need for Burma to “make further progress in the creation of jobs” if it is to achieve its goal of creating “a society that truly works for all.”

Improvements in access to quality healthcare and reforms to the education system — two areas of possible British investment in Burma discussed by Suu Kyi when she met with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday — were also cited as key elements of a successful transition to a more equitable society.

May also raised the subject of human rights abuses by Burma’s military — an issue that is seen as an impediment to the lifting of US sanctions, which are also a consideration for British companies interested in investing in Burma — while Suu Kyi quizzed the prime minister on the UK’s decision in a referendum held in June to withdraw from the European Union.

Following the meeting, Suu Kyi departed for Washington, where she arrived at around 8pm on Tuesday. She is expected to meet President Barack Obama and senior US lawmakers later today.