Clinton warns Suu Kyi: Democracy isn't easy

This file photo shows Myanmar's pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (R) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during their meeting at Suu Kyi's residence in Yangon, last December

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered advice for Myanmar's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she enters parliament -- it isn't easy.

Clinton, a former first lady and senator who made a run for the US presidency in 2008, on Monday hailed Suu Kyi at the US premiere of "The Lady," a biopic on the Nobel peace laureate by French director Luc Besson.

"I did tell her in one of our recent telephone conversations -- she was moving from an icon to a politician. Having made sort of the same journey to some extent, I know that that's not easy," Clinton said.

"Now you go to a parliament and you start compromising, which is what democracy is all about. It's not a dirty word," Clinton said at the screening at the headquarters of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Clinton said that she told Suu Kyi that she will "have to work with other people, some of whom you disagree with deeply."

"But it is part of the commitment you make to a democratic process, even one as fragile as that being embraced by the leadership and the people of Burma," she said, referring to Myanmar by its former name.

Suu Kyi, who had spent most of the past two decades under house arrest, won her first seat in parliament in April 1 elections which were the most visible sign yet of reforms by reform-minded President Thein Sein.

Clinton last week announced a set of rewards to encourage further reforms in Myanmar, including an easing of longstanding restrictions on US investment and financial services in the resource-rich but impoverished nation.

Clinton, who met Suu Kyi for the first time on a landmark December visit to Yangon, reiterated her hopes for further actions in Myanmar including a release of remaining political prisoners and resolution of longstanding ethnic conflicts.

"It is something that we enter with our eyes very open, but with our hearts very hopeful," Clinton said of the US engagement with Myanmar.