The two female leaders met for the first time on Monday as Sheikh Hasina is visiting the reclusive state to participate in the third BIMSTEC summit.
BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation is a regional grouping of seven members from South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka – and South East Asia –Thailand and Myanmar.
The meeting was held at the office of the Committee for Rule of Law and Tranquillity, a parliamentary committee. Suu Kyi is the Chairman of Myanmar’s main opposition the National League for Democracy.
Suu Kyi, in traditional Burmese attire, embraced Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina upon her arrival at the entrance of the office. The two appeared elated as they exchanged greetings.
Hasina had always supported the cause of democratic restoration in Myanmar led by Suu Kyi — both as prime minister and previously as Opposition Leader.
So, the strong personal chemistry between the two female leaders of the neighbouring countries was not entirely unexpected.
The Prime Minister introduced her younger sister Sheikh Rehana’s son Redwan Mujib Siddique Bobby and his wife Peppi Kiviniemi Siddique to her.
The two leaders then sat in a meeting for the first time.
Later, the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant (Media) Mahbubul Hoque Shakil briefed the media on the meeting.
“Suu Kyi opened the discussion by praising the Prime Minister’s leadership saying that both of them have come a long way to restore democracy,” he said.
Hasina’s measures to alleviate the situation of the poor, especially for women and children, were seen as inspirations by Suu Kyi, according to the Prime Minister’s special aide.
“Suu Kyi said in the meeting that there is a lot to learn from Bangladesh.”
The Burmese leader commended the government’s initiatives such as the ‘One house, one farm’ and ‘Stipend for female students’.
Explaining Bangladesh’s steps for development of the poor people, Hasina said in the meeting that she would like to encourage the rural women on increasing their savings.
On that note, Suu Kyi said that she had introduced ‘savings box’ in her constituency.
They embraced each other once again at the end of the meeting and joined in a photo session.
The two were seen coming out holding hands from the meeting that lasted for more than half an hour. Suu Kyi accompanied Hasina to her car.
After her meeting with Suu Kyi, Hasina moved on to meet the Speaker of Parliament, Thura Shwe Mann.
She was accompanied by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and the ministry’s Secretary Shahidul Haque, Ambassador-At-Large Mohammad Ziauddin.
Suu Kyi was freed in 2010 after being under house arrest for 15 years. Her confinement is seen as an icon for the South East Asian state’s struggle for democracy.