Suu Kyi to travel abroad

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Copy of iol pic wld suu kyi myanmar REUTERS Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi touches the hands of her supporters as she arrives to attend the opening ceremony of her National League for Democracy party's branch office in Thar Kay Ta townwship in Yangon.

Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will travel outside Myanmar for the first time in 24 years next week to deliver a speech at an international forum in Thailand, her party said on Thursday.

Her decision to venture outside the country she had only expected to return to temporarily in 1988 comes after a year of dramatic change in Myanmar after almost a half century of military rule.

Suu Kyi, 66, won a parliamentary seat in April after engaging with the reformist rulers once part of the junta that locked her up for 15 years for her fight against dictatorship.

An official from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party told Reuters Suu Kyi had accepted an invitation to attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok next week.

Separately, NLD spokesman Nyan Win said Suu Kyi would head to neighbouring Thailand on Monday. Organisers could not confirm whether or not she would attend.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of the leader of Myanmar's campaign for independence from British rule, spent years away from home, including many in Britain after marrying a British academic, Michael Aris.

She returned to her homeland in 1988 to take care of her dying mother and got caught up in a student-led democracy uprising that swept the country that year and which the military eventually crushed.

Suu Kyi was first detained in 1989 and spent 15 of the next 21 years in detention until her release from house arrest in November 2010.

She refused to leave the country during brief periods when she was not held by authorities, for fear of not being allowed to return, even after her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Aris died in 1999.

Suu Kyi had announced in April she would make Britain and Norway her first ports of call, but her plans appear to have changed.

She is due to visit Geneva to address an international labour conference on June 14 and will also spend a week in Britain from June 18, where she lived and studied, during which she will give a speech to both houses of parliament. - Reuters

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