Prime Minister Tony Abbott has met Aung San Suu Kyi as Myanmar’s popular opposition leader presses the US to preserve the nation’s hard-fought democratic reforms.
Mr Abbott on Wednesday arrived in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, at the midpoint in his busy week of diplomacy that culminates with Australia hosting the G20 leaders.
The former pariah state is hosting the ASEAN summit, a moment in the world spotlight that comes amid growing concern about its treatment of ethnic minorities.
Ms Suu Kyi – who is constitutionally barred from running in next year’s elections – has warned that Myanmar’s democratic transition is stalling.
The former political prisoner plans to urge US President Barack Obama, also in Myanmar for the summit, to take a sterner view of the gains in Myanmar’s transition to civilian rule.
After his meeting with Nobel laureate Ms Suu Kyi, Mr Abbott was to hold bilateral talks with Myanmar’s President Thien Sein.
Mr Abbott earlier met Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – their fifth talks in 12 months – where he remarked on their positive trade and defence ties.
On Wednesday night, the prime minister was to address an event to commemorate the group’s 40th year of dialogue with Australia.
He will attend the ASEAN-hosted East Asia Summit (EAS) on Thursday where security issues will dominate.
The pressure point in the EAS is the protracted territorial row in the South China Sea between China and other ASEAN countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam.
Mr Abbott will leave on Thursday afternoon to host world leaders arriving in Australia for this weekend’s G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane.
Before Myanmar, he was in China for APEC economic talks, and a tense meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the MH17 disaster.