NAY PYI TAW - (UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday met Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Duterte is in Myanmar for a two-day official visit, which saw him meeting with the Filipino community and holding talks with representatives of Myanmar’s government.
The meeting had been highly anticipated since Duterte has been beset by allegations of human rights violations over the war on drugs, while Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counselor, has been criticized for her silence on the violence in the Rakhine state between the minority Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist locals.
During his meeting with Suu Kyi, Duterte gave $300,000 to the Myanmar government for the humanitarian efforts in Rakhine.
Suu Kyi thanked the Philippines for its donation.
“The thoughtful gesture of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines reflects the ASEAN solidarity and family spirit as well as the traditional bonds of friendship and cooperation between the 2 countries,” she said.
The official visit got underway with a welcome ceremony on the Presidential Palace grounds, followed by the signing of the Palace guest book, a bilateral meeting of the Philippines and Myanmar delegations, the signing of a memorandum of understanding on food security, and then the meeting with Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for standing up against the military-backed government.
She was on house arrest for 15 years and was released in 2010. Five years after her release, her party National League for Democracy won majority of the seats in the elections. She was named the country’s state counselor.
The landslide win gave Suu Kyi’s party the power to name the country’s president, U Htin Kyaw, the Nobel laureate’s close confidante.
Meanwhile, Duterte is also expected to meet with the military of Myanmar.
In a note to media, the DFA said President Duterte met with Myanmar’s president and discussed the strengthening of bilateral relations between Philippines and Myanmar as both countries celebrated last year 60 years of bilateral relations.
The Philippines is the chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year.
Duterte sought and received the support of Myanmar's president and state counselor for the Philippines' chairmanship.
In discussions, Duterte also called for increased two-way trade and investment, citing the growing presence of Philippine companies in Myanmar.
Among the ASEAN countries, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have contributed assistance to the Rakhine state. Thailand donated $200,000.