GENEVA, Switzerland - Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi called for international investment to create jobs for her country's youth at the start of a landmark tour of Europe following years under house arrest.
Suu Kyi, who arrived at the UN offices in Geneva to flowers and applause, appealed for the investment in a speech to delegates at the International Labour Organisation conference.
"It's not so much joblessness as hopelessness that threatens our future," she said, making her first visit to Europe in 24 years.
"Unemployed youth lose confidence in the society that has failed to give them the chance to realise their potential.
"Foreign direct investment that results in job creation should be invited," she added.
Suu Kyi also spoke of the plight of migrant workers from Myanmar in Thailand, calling for coordinated social, political and economic policies "that will put our country once again on the map of the positive and the successful."
She told her audience she was "profoundly moved" by the "totally unexpected, very warm welcome" she had received as she began a five-country tour which will include a speech in Oslo to accept the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize she was unable to receive at the time.
Her visit marks a new milestone in the political changes that have swept the country formerly known as Burma since decades of military rule ended last year, bringing to power a new quasi-civilian government.
The Myanmar opposition leader has spent the last quarter of a century either confined to her Yangon home on the orders of the ruling military junta or too afraid to leave the country in case she would not be allowed to return.
She also told reporters that she thought French and US oil giants Total and Chevron, long a target of human rights activists for their activities in Myanmar, should continue to operate there.
"I find that Total is a responsible investor ... it is sensitive to human rights," she said after her speech.