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Suu Kyi cheered by supporters in Britain

The Nobel laureate was greeted Tuesday by sustained applause and shouts during a speech at the London School of Economics.

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi listens to the audience sing 'Happy Birthday' to her following a discussion at the London School of Economics in London June 19. Suu Kyi has returned to Europe for the first time since 1988, when she left her family life in Britain and found herself thrust into Myanmar's fight against dictatorship.

Suzanne Plunkett/REUTERS

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Myanmar's Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday began an emotional visit to Britain, where she left her family 24 years ago and took up her famous struggle against the military dictatorship in her homeland.

The pro-democracy campaigner spent much of the next two decades under house arrest in Myanmar, costing her time with her two sons and the chance to be with her husband, Michael Aris, before he died of cancer in 1999.

Suu Kyi, celebrating her 67th birthday, received a standing ovation as she addressed a packed auditorium at the London School of Economics university at the beginning of her visit to Britain, the latest leg of a 17-day European tour.

"It's all of you and people like you that have given me the strength to continue," she said, to whoops and cheers from the audience.

"And I suppose I do have a stubborn streak in me."

Suu Kyi spoke about the importance of the rule of law in Myanmar, which was under military control for 49 years but in recent months has surprised the world with a slew of democratic reforms including parliamentary polls.

"The reason why I've emphasized the rule of law so much in my political work, is because this is what we all need if we are to really proceed towards democracy," said the Oxford graduate, who was sworn into Myanmar's parliament last month.


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