Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi seeks to reassure China while being feted in Washington

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She went on to say U.S.-Burmese relations were started by a 19th century Christian missionary and were centered on “education and humanitarian help” rather than politics or economics before the military coup of 1962. She bemoaned that Burma, also known as Myanmar, “lost many of our links with the West” over the past 50 years and encouraged the U.S. to help with the country's democratic transition while investing in the country's health and education.

“We need the kind of help that has been given by the United States historically,” she said.

Suu Kyi was introduced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who praised her “courage and world leadership” but warned that Burma is “still a work in progress.”

“There are forces that would take the country in the wrong direction,” Clinton said.