Aung San Suu Kyi to be awarded highest US civilian honour

Aung San Suu Kyi to be awarded highest US civilian honourWashington  - President George W Bush on Tuesday signed legislation awarding Myanmar Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi the highest civilian honour from the US Congress, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Bush used the opportunity to urge that country's military leadership to accept US aid in response to a devastating cyclone over the weekend that has left more than 22,000 people dead.

"The United States has made an initial aid contribution, but we want to do a lot more," Bush said. "We're prepared to move US Navy assets to help find those who've lost their lives, to help find the missing, to help stabilize the situation. But in order to do so, the military junta must allow our disaster assessment teams into the country."

Bush praised Suu Kyi as a pro-democracy advocate in the face of the ruling military junta that faces economic and financial sanctions from the US and other government for its suppression of dissidents.

"This is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman who speaks for freedom for all the people of Burma, and who speaks in such a way that she's a powerful voice in contrast to the junta that currently rules the country," Bush said in signing approval for the award.

Burma is the historical name for the country now known as Myanmar.

In 1990, Suu Kyi led her political party to a landslide victory in parliamentary elections, gaining 82 per cent of the seats in parliament. But the junta refused to recognize the results, and cracked down on all political expression.

She has spent more than 12 of the past 17 years under house arrest. (dpa)