When Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in France on Tuesday for a four-day visit, she will be welcomed by President Francois Hollande at the Elysée Palace. France has rolled out all the stops, giving Suu Kyi a reception similar to a head of state. She will arrive in Paris by train from Britain.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will meet with Suu Kyi at the Quai d’Orsay and hold a dinner in her honor.
In addition to meeting with the newly elected president, she will also be welcomed by the presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate, as well as by the Mayor of Paris, a city of which she is an honorary citizen.
In line with her wish to meet European young people, the Foreign Ministry said she would visit the Sorbonne for a lecture and a discussion with students. She will also meet with representatives of French nongovernmental organizations that supported human rights, humanitarian aid and development in Burma, and will be the guest of honor at the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society.
France has been a strong supporter of Suu Kyi’s throughout the years of her house arrest in Burma and her release in 2010.
Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, visited Burma in January when he met with Suu Kyi and Burma’s President Thein Sein.
Trade between France and Burma has been very limited. The primary French project approved by the Investment Commission is he holding of the energy company, Total, which represented an investment of US$ 480 million in 2010, according to the Foreign Ministry. Total, the operator of the Yadana gas field, held a 31 per cent stake in 2010. The U.S. company Chevron, also present in the consortium, held 28 per cent, the Thai company PTTEP 25 per cent, and the Burmese state-owned company MOGE, 15 per cent. Most of the gas produced is for the Thai market.
Suu Kyi’s tour of Europe has included visits to Britain, Switzerland, Ireland and Norway.
In Norway, she received the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize denied her while under house arrest in Burma, and in Britain, she addressed a joint session of Parliament.
While she has been in Europe, Burma has experienced widespread sectarian unrest in western Rakhine State, where Buddhist and Rohingya Muslims have clashed, setting off a flow of refugees fleeing the violence. Estimates say there may be up to 90,000 people in need of humanitarian aid. The U.N. said it is preparting to aid refugees for up to a three-month period. The government has urged the population to exercise religious tolerance and calm, saying the unrest could disrupt the reform process.