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Prince Charles planning controversial trip to Myanmar to meet Aung San Suu Kyi

The Prince of Wales is reportedly planning to make an official visit to Myanmar later this year, a move that will prove highly controversial with recent news coming out of the region.

The South Asian country, formerly known as Burma, is currently engulfed in an international uproar over allegations that ethnic cleansing of Muslims is taking place.

According to the Daily Express, Prince Charles has been requested to visit the country by the Foreign Office before the end of the year.

It is likely that the visit to Myanmar will just be one stop on a tour of several countries in the region.

Details of the tour have not yet been finalised, although November is seen as the most likely time for a visit to go ahead.

It is hoped that the heir to the throne will influence the de facto leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, to act after facing allegations from western countries that she has failed to speak out against violence towards Rohingya Muslims.

The United Nations estimates that around 300,000 men, women and children from Myanmar’s Muslim minority have been forced to flee their homes for neighbouring Bangladesh since this time last year.

Most of those have sought refuge in Bangladesh in the past few weeks after attacks by Rohingya militants led to army reprisals.

Ms Suu Kyi is a holder of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for her work with human rights. However, critics are now suggesting her commitment to human rights are watered down following her refusal to publicly condemn violence towards the Muslim minority in Myanmar.

The Prince of Wales and Aung San Suu Kyi already have a good diplomatic relationship, and have on previous occasions.

In 2013, Prince Charles hosted the Nobel peace laureate at Clarence House on a visit to the UK.

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall then sat down with the Burmese opposition leader and began talks which lasted for approximately 45 minutes.

Ms Suu Kyi has close connections with the UK, having read philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University between 1964 and 1967. She then settled in the city with her late husband Michael Aris, a Tibetan scholar.

In 1989, around a year after her return to her Burma, Ms Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest by the military which feared the influence of a woman whose father was instrumental in gaining Burma’s freedom from British rule. She was finally released from house arrest in 2010.

Ms Suu Kyi’s late husband died from prostate cancer in 1999. He knew Charles, and in the year in which he died, the Prince became patron of the Michael Aris Memorial Trust for Tibetan and Himalayan Studies.

Ms Suu Kyi is also connected to Charles through the Prince’s great uncle, Lord Mountbatten who worked closely with Ms Suu Kyi’s father about issues leading up to Burma’s independence from British rule. They both played a crucial role leading up to Burma becoming independent.

During a previous visit in 2012, Ms Suu Kyi left Charles a gift of a black tulip magnolia sapling, which was planted in the garden. Charles took her to see the progress that the tree had made. Charles told Ms Suu Kyi: “I’m so glad it’s there.” And Ms Suu Kyi replied: “It’s looking very nice.”

Just a couple of hours later, Prince Charles was at his grandson, Prince George’s christening.

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