Myanmar icon Suu Kyi in Ireland with U2's Bono

by Ruth Holmes, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jun 19 2012 01:22 AM | Updated as of Jun 19 2012 09:22 AM

DUBLIN - Aung San Suu Kyi landed in Ireland on Monday for a flying visit on her European tour, with U2 star Bono by her side as she headed to collect a prize honouring her unwavering commitment to human rights.

Myanmar's democracy icon flew into Dublin with the Irish singer on his private jet after the pair co-hosted a panel at a peace forum in Oslo, where Suu Kyi has herself received a rock star welcome from crowds of thousands.

Wearing a long, patterned black skirt and a yellow scarf, Suu Kyi looked relaxed as she posed for photos with the rock star at the airport, and welcomed Ireland's announcement that it was sending a non-resident ambassador to Myanmar.

"I am very happy we are going to have an Irish ambassador accredited to Burma because I believe in engagement," the Nobel peace laureate told reporters.

"The greater engagement there is between nations, the better for the whole world."

Irish President Michael D. Higgins and his wife greeted Suu Kyi at their residence, before the "Electric Burma" concert in Dublin hosted by Amnesty International.

Bono, who has long supported Suu Kyi's freedom struggle and dedicated the song "Walk On" to her, was to present Suu Kyi at the concert with the rights group's most prestigious prize, the Ambassador of Conscience Award.

The U2 frontman was set to perform along with artists from around the world including fellow rock star activist Bob Geldof, Benin singer Angelique Kidjo, US rapper Lupe Fiasco, and Ireland's Riverdance troupe.

After the concert, thousands of people were expected at an open-air event outside the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, where Suu Kyi will be given the Freedom of the City of Dublin some 12 years after she was named for the honour.

She is expected to address the crowds, who will sing "happy birthday" to her, a day before she turns 67.

An emotional Suu Kyi delivered her Nobel lecture at Oslo City Hall on Saturday, more than two decades after receiving the peace prize awarded to her in 1991 for her "non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights".

She was unable to accept it at the time, as she was under house arrest and feared that the regime would bar her from returning to her country.

After visiting Ireland, Suu Kyi's 17-day European tour takes her to Britain on Tuesday.

She will celebrate her birthday in the southern English town of Oxford, where she studied at the prestigious university and lived for several years with her late English husband, Michael Aris.

Oxford University, where she studied politics, philosophy and economics and met Tibet expert Aris, will award her with an honorary degree on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Suu Kyi is to address both houses of parliament in London in a rare honour for a foreign dignitary, as well as meet Prime Minister David Cameron and heir to the throne Prince Charles.

Suu Kyi's tour, which also takes in Switzerland and France, is her first trip to Europe for 24 years.

It has been clouded by continued violence in western Myanmar where dozens of people have been killed and more than 30,000 people displaced by clashes between Buddhist Rakhines and stateless Muslim Rohingya.