Suu Kyi asks for 'space' to address Myanmar's Rohingya plight

Myanmar Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi (R) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) take part in a joint press conference following their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Myanmar"s capital Naypyidaw on 22 May 2016. Image copyright AFP/Getty

Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has asked for "enough 'space" to address the Rohingya issue.

She was speaking after meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry, who called on her to promote human rights.

Some 125,000 Rohingya Muslims were displaced after fighting with Myanmar's majority Buddhists erupted in 2012 in Rakhine state and spread further.

Historic elections swept Ms Suu Kyi and her party into office in November, ending half a century of military rule.

Last week, The US lifted a host of financial and trade embargoes on Myanmar, but has kept the backbone of its sanctions.

Mr Kerry said he had discussed the "very sensitive" and "divisive" Rohingya issue with Ms Suu Kyi.

"I know it arouses strong passions here," Mr Kerry said, addressing a joint news conference in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

"What is critical is to focus on is solving the problem... which is improving the situation on the ground, to promote development, promote respect for human rights and benefit all of those that live in Rakhine and throughout Myanmar."

'Emotive terms'

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Media captionRohingya crisis - in 90 seconds

There is widespread hostility towards Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, including among some within Ms Suu Kyi's own party.

Rohingya Muslims are seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and are referred to by many as Bengalis.

Because of this, Myanmar denies many Rohingya citizenship and basic rights.

Last week, Ms Suu Kyi suggested to the new US ambassador in Myanmar, Scot Marciel, that he refrain from using the term '"Rohingya".

"Emotive terms" made it very difficult to find a peaceful and sensible solution to the problem, she said at the news conference with Mr Kerry.

"All that we are asking is that people should be aware of the difficulties we are facing and to give us enough space to solve all our problems," she said.

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