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A U.S.-based advocacy group has invited Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to New York to accept an award for global citizenship.

The Atlantic Council says it will honor Aung San Suu Kyi on September 21 with its Global Citizen Award. The group cited her “unwavering devotion to democracy and human rights,” calling her “an international symbol of freedom and human dignity.”

Aung San Suu Kyi, who did not confirm she will attend the event, has not visited the U.S. since she worked at the United Nations in the 1980s, prior to her involvement in Burmese politics.

Jennifer Quigley of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma says the Nobel laureate would receive a huge welcome if she is able to make the trip.

“They'll definitely roll out the red carpet for her if she comes. But…she won't be coming if parliament is in session in Burma. So the big question mark is whether the speaker of the house, Shwe Mann, will adjourn parliament for her to come and do another big world trip where she has become so prominent.”

There were rumors of a developing political rivalry with President Thein Sein after Aung San Suu Kyi repeatedly said during her recent European tour that Western nations should be cautious in relaxing sanctions against Burma.

The invitation comes as a high-level U.S. delegation including dozens of business leaders visits Burma to explore investment opportunities in the rapidly reforming nation.

Last week, the United States formally lifted sanctions against Burma, allowing U.S. investment in the country for the first time in 15 years.

The move prompted criticism from many, including Quigley's U.S. Campaign for Burma. Quigley says the U.S. should be more concerned about ongoing reports of violence against ethnic minority groups, such as the Kachin or Rohingya.

“The civil war is still going on. And the president of Burma, actually on the same day that Obama announced he was lifting sanctions, called for the United Nations to round up all the Rohingya into camps and deport them. And so to us, that's an extremely alarming move and should have been the top U.S. priority.”

Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats, who is leading the U.S. business delegation, said Monday that Washington remains committed to respecting human rights, including those of ethnic minorities and political prisoners. He said future progress in the U.S.-Burma relationship depends on continued efforts in these areas.

Source: VOA