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Suu Kyi meets Soros, the billionaire

(Mizzima) – In recent months, prime ministers and high-level leaders from around the world have met with Aung San Suu Kyi, but she met her first billionaire, philanthropist George Soros, to open the New Year.

George Soros at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2010. Photo: en.wikipedia.orgThe hedge fund mogul met with Suu Kyi, the winner of the 1991 Nobel peace prize and a political prisoner for most of the 20 years prior to her release from house arrest in 2010, in her home in Rangoon on Monday. This week she is also scheduled to meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Soros, 81, arrived by private jet on December 26 with his two sons and was accompanied by staff members of his foundation. Earlier, he visited Inle Lake, a popular tourist destination in Shan State.

Agence France Presse quoted a statement on Thursday that said the financier, one of the world’s richest men, said he planned to establish an “official presence” in the country to aid “the transition from a closed to a more open society,” following his Dec. 26 to Jan. 3 trip to Burma.

The statement said his meeting with Suu Kyu included “a wide-ranging discussion about the reform process.”

“My foundations have been supporting the democracy movement for 20 years, but this was my first meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi. I have been and remain very much guided by her vision in my involvement in Burma,” Soros said.

“While I am greatly encouraged by signs of political opening in Burma, the reforms are in the early days. There is a big gap between the good will at the top and conditions on the ground,” Soros said, in a release from his Open Society Foundations group.

Soros’ foundation currently gives about $2 million annually to projects in Burma, largely in education programs and scholarships.

Despite a continued dominance of the army, there are promising signs that the new government is willing to reform since taking over from the ruling junta in March.

President Thein Sein and top government leaders have held talks with Suu Kyi, opened dialogue with ethnic rebels and indicated a wish for friendlier ties with the West.

 Suu Kyi will run for a Parliament seat in the by-election to be held on April 1.

The Burmese government caused disappointment this week in a commutation of prison sentences that included only a handful of the detained political prisoners that are an essential concern of western governments.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 January 2012 15:00 )  

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