1 Oct 2012

Suu Kyi acceptable as president to Myanmar leader

7:30 pm on 1 October 2012

Myanmar's President Thein Sein says he would accept Aung San Suu Kyi as president if the people vote for her.

In an interview with the BBC television programme Hardtalk he insisted that the will of the people would be respected whoever they chose in an election due in 2015.

He reiterated his commitment to the country's reform programme, saying "There isn't any problem between me and Aung San Suu Kyi. We are working together."

Ms Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest for 15 years and repeatedly denounced by the country's military leaders until one of them, Thein Sein, initiated a dramatic shift towards a civilian-led government.

Two days ago he spoke at the United Nations General Assembly, congratulating Ms Suu Kyi on receiving the US Congressional Gold Medal.

But he added that the army, which retains many of the seats in parliament, will continue to play a central role in the country's politics.

Thein Sein's remarks this week have been the warmest from Myanmar's political leadership since the military junta was formally dissolved in March 2011.

The president also renewed his appeal for economic sanctions placed on his country to be lifted.

The United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has said the US will ease its import ban on Myanmar goods, and many other targeted measures have already been lifted by the US and other Western countries.