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Suu Kyi falls ill on first day of European tour [Video]

June 14, 2012 |  4:32 pm

On the first day of a whirlwind trip through Europe, famed Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi fell ill, throwing up in the middle of a news conference in Switzerland.

Suu Kyi took a turn for the worse during a packed day that included addressing a star-struck United Nations labor forum in Geneva, heading by train to Bern, and taking questions alongside the Swiss foreign minister. The news conference was cut short after Suu Kyi reportedly turned pale and bent over.

Earlier in the day, she had complained of exhaustion. “Having stayed in one place for so long, I found the plane journey out to the West extremely exhausting and a little bit disorienting because I couldn't adjust to the new time as quickly as I might have 24 years ago," the Associated Press quoted her telling reporters.

Travel is new and perhaps dizzying to Suu Kyi, who passed up past chances to leave Myanmar, fearing that its military junta would not let her return. Determined to stay in her country and weathering 15 years in detention or under house arrest, Suu Kyi was long separated from her family living in Britain. Her husband died of cancer in 1999, not having seen her for more than a decade.

As Myanmar has edged toward reform -- freeing political prisoners and allowing Suu Kyi and other opposition candidates to stand in elections -- she decided she could finally venture beyond its borders. The 17-day Europe trip is her second journey outside Myanmar this year, following a recent trip to Thailand.

The most awaited stop on her trip is Oslo, where Suu Kyi is slated to make the acceptance speech she could not give for her Nobel Peace Prize when she won it 11 years ago. Her itinerary also includes a visit to Oxford University and an Amnesty International concert and awards ceremony in Dublin.

Her trip comes as Myanmar has gained increasing recognition and acceptance from other countries and international group that had held back while the country was under stricter military control.

The latest sign of its global embrace came Thursday from Coca-Cola, which announced it would start selling its products in Myanmar, one of only three countries in the world where it isn't in business. The company said it would start up business as soon as the U.S. government allows it, "which is imminent."


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Burmese democracy advocate Suu Kyi pays historic visit to Europe

-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Video: Aung San Suu Kyi speaks Thursday before the International Labor Organization conference in Geneva. Credit: International Labor Organization / YouTube