Exhausted Suu Kyi falls ill during news conference
Thursday, June 14, 2012
BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi fell ill during a news conference in Switzerland on Thursday, shortly after saying how exhausted she was after a long trip from Asia to Europe — her first in 24 years.
After getting a rock star welcome in Geneva, the Nobel peace laureate looked pale as she took questions alongside Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter in the Swiss capital of Bern. After a few minutes, she pressed a finger to her lips and motioned to an aide who rushed to her side. She then bent over, seemingly in pain, and threw up before being escorted out of the room by officials.
A spokesman for the Swiss Foreign Ministry said Suu Kyi recovered enough to briefly attend a reception with government officials but then retired to her room.
"She's just a bit tired," spokesman Jean-Marc Crevoisier told The Associated Press. "I would be too after the long day she's had."
Earlier Thursday, Suu Kyi had visited the United Nations in Geneva on the first stop of her two-week tour of Europe.
Her appearance at a U.N. labor conference — an unlikely venue for glitz and glamor — had starry-eyed functionaries reaching for their camera phones to snap a picture as the slight 66-year-old smiled and shook hands with well-wishers.
The evening before, as Suu Kyi arrived at her hotel shortly before midnight after a long flight, spontaneous applause erupted in the lobby as the staff recognized their special guest.
Suu Kyi, who endured 15 years of house arrest and once feared permanent exile if she ever left Myanmar, has become the country's most electric ambassador.
During her trip around Europe, Suu Kyi is expected to lay out how her country has changed and what still needs to be done before it can be called a proper democracy. She will also address both houses of Britain's parliament, receive an honorary doctorate from Oxford, attend a U2 concert in Dublin and deliver in Oslo the acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize that she won in 1991.
At the time, she was detained by the military after leading a pro-democracy party to victory in Myanmar's 1990 election. The prize was picked up instead by her 18-year-old son Alexander.
"I've been so exhausted preparing for the trip that I've had no time to think about how I'm going to feel about Oslo, but perhaps this evening I'll sit back and think about it," Suu Kyi told reporters after her speech to the U.N. labor office.
Jordans contributed from Geneva.
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