Aung San Suu Kyi appealed to Britain "as friend and an equal" to support the people of Burma in their drive for democracy, as she spoke before both Houses of Parliament on Thursday.

Calling on the country to help Burma's new democratic regime to thrive, the Burmese opposition leader told a packed Westminster Hall: "To those who feel themselves to be somehow above politics, I want to say that politics should be seen neither as something that exists above us nor as something that happens beneath us but something that is integral to our everyday existence.”

Delivering a historic address to both the Lord and the Commons, the Nobel peace laureate said she was seeking practical help to address the problems still besetting her country.

In particular, she said she hoped the UK could help rebuild the education system while providing new investment for the future.

"I am here in part to ask for practical help, help as a friend and an equal, in support of the reforms which can bring better lives, greater opportunities, to the people of Burma who have been for so long deprived of their rights and their place in the world," she said.

"My country today stands at the start of a journey towards, I hope, a better future. So many hills remain to be climbed, chasms to be bridged, obstacles to be breached.

"Our own determination can get us so far. The support of the people of Britain and of peoples around the world can get us so much further."

aung san suu kyi

Suu Kyi held a press conference with David Cameron prior to her address at Parliament

Ms Suu Kyi, who received a standing ovation from MPs and peers in a packed Westminster Hall, said the key to reform was the establishment of a strong parlimentary institution.

She said that after 49 years of direct military rule, it would take time for the country's fledgling parliament to find its feet and its voice.

"Our new legislative processes, which are undoubtedly an improvement on what went before, are not as transparent as they might be," she said.

"I would like to see us learn from established examples of parliamentary democracies elsewhere so that we might deepen our own democratic standards over time."

Earlier, Commons Speaker John Bercow hailed Aung San Suu Kyi as "the conscience of a country and a heroine for humanity" as he introduced her to guests in Westminster Hall.

He reminded guests of other foreigners who addressed Westminster Hall, including former French president Charles de Gaulle, American president Barack Obama and ex-South African leader Nelson Mandela.

Mr Bercow said: "Today, Aung San Suu Kyi will become the first figure other than a head of state, the first woman from abroad and the first citizen of Asia to do so.

"This is not a break from precedent without a purpose; the courage of our guest is legendary.

"She has withstood the unimaginable suffering of separation from her family and her people with a dignity, fortitude and resolve which most of us can barely conceive."

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  • Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi

    Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (R), talk after a tree planting ceremony at Clarence House in London, on June 21, 2012. Suu Kyi met British heir to the throne Prince Charles on June 21 ahead of her historic address to both houses of parliament. AFP PHOTO / POOL / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi

    Burmese pro-democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi, meets the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, at Downing Street in London as part of her four-day visit to the UK.

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron (L)

    British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) greets Myanmar emocracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi outside 10 Downing Street in London, on June 21, 2012. Aung San Suu Kyi will on Thursday address both houses of the British parliament -- a rare honour bestowed on only four foreign dignitaries since World War II. Suu Kyi will follow in the footsteps of US President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI when she speaks in the 11th-century Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the parliament complex. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Aung San Suu Kyi Meets The Prince Of Wales And The Duchess Of Cornwall

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi finishes planting a Magnolia tree next to Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in the gardens of Clarence House on June 21, 2012 in London, England. The Burmese opposition leader is on a four-day visit to the UK. (Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • Aung San Suu Kyi Meets The Prince Of Wales And The Duchess Of Cornwall

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi walks out to the garden with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall before planting a Magnolia tree at Clarence House on June 21, 2012 in London, England. The Burmese opposition leader is on a four-day visit to the UK. (Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • Aung San Suu Kyi Meets The Prince Of Wales And The Duchess Of Cornwall

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi finishes planting a Magnolia tree next to Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in the gardens of Clarence House on June 21, 2012 in London, England. The Burmese opposition leader is on a four-day visit to the UK. (Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • Aung San Suu Kyi Meets The Prince Of Wales And The Duchess Of Cornwall

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi walks out to the garden with Prince Charles, Prince of Wales before planting a Magnolia tree at Clarence House on June 21, 2012 in London, England. The Burmese opposition leader is on a four-day visit to the UK. (Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron (L)

    British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) welcomes Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi (2nd L) to 10 Downing Street in London, on June 21, 2012. Aung San Suu Kyi will on Thursday address both houses of the British parliament -- a rare honour bestowed on only four foreign dignitaries since World War II. Suu Kyi will follow in the footsteps of US President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI when she speaks in the 11th-century Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the parliament complex. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Aung San Suu Kyi visits to UK Day 3

    Burmese pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi during a press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street, in London, part of her four-day visit to the UK.

  • David Cameron visit to Japan and South East Asia - Day Four

    Prime Minister David Cameron meets pro democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her Lakeside Villa in Rangoon, Burma today.

  • Aung San Suu Kyi visits to UK Day 3

    Burmese pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi during a press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street, in London, part of her four-day visit to the UK.

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