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Suu Kyi arrives in Norway to make her case as Nobel laureate _ 21 years after winning prize
OSLO, Norway (AP) ' It has taken more than two decades, countless lonely nights and imponderable hardships for Aung San Suu Kyi to reach the Oslo podium. But Myanmar's most famous political prisoner is finally getting the chance to make her case for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Suu Kyi landed in the Norwegian capital and home for the world's greatest diplomatic honor Friday a day ahead of a speech that many thought she would never be permitted to make.
The 66-year-old democracy activist plans to thank the Nobel committee and the people of Norway on Saturday for the prize she won in 1991 ' the second year of her 21-year existence as an exile within her own homeland. Fifteen of those years she spent in prisons or confined to her dilapidated lakeside home, the rest too fearful of traveling abroad and never being allowed to return home by Myanmar's military junta.
Norwegian leaders and artists planned an emotional, loving welcome Friday for Suu Kyi with an elaborate display at the fjord-side Nobel Peace Center chronicling her life's key moments of despair, determination and triumph.
"(Her visit) means a lot to the Norwegian people because we admire her so much and we have longed to see her coming here and give her Nobel speech," said the executive director of the Nobel Peace Center, Bente Erichsen.
Suu Kyi flew to Norway from Switzerland, where she began her two-week tour of Europe late Wednesday. She made it to Oslo despite falling ill Thursday at a press conference that her aides attributed to exhaustion from overwork and jet lag.
She is scheduled to spend three days in Oslo and the Norwegian city of Bergen, then travel to the Irish capital, Dublin, on Monday for a celebrity-studded concert in her honor with U2. After that, it's back to Oxford University, where she studied before her 1980s blossoming into the leading voice for democracy in Myanmar.
One of her key Irish backers, U2 frontman Bono, was expected to accompany her on the Oslo-to-Dublin flight. He will then present her with another award postponed by her long home imprisonment, Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience, an award that Bono unveiled at a Dublin U2 concert in 2009.
Earlier Friday, Suu Kyi visited Switzerland's Parliament and met government officials in the Swiss capital of Bern, where enthusiastic crowds greeted her with cheers and bouquets of flowers. She received a standing ovation from the Swiss lawmakers, mirroring the rock star reception that greeted her Thursday at the United Nations in Geneva.
Suu Kyi was released from junta-imposed house arrest in November 2010. In April 2012 she won a seat in the country's national assembly, her first opportunity to run for office.
Myanmar's military rulers had first jailed her in 1989, the year before her opposition National League for Democracy triumphed in Myanmar's first open elections, a result that was quashed by the junta.
Associated Press writer Catherine Gaschka in Bern, Switzerland, contributed to this report.