Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met US President Barack Obama at the White House and received the highest congressional award yesterday.

Ms Suu Kyi, on a coast-to-coast US tour, held private talks with Mr Obama in the Oval Office after being feted by politicians in the Capitol.

She was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal for her long fight for democracy in a country ruled by army generals since 1962.

"This is one of the most moving days of my life, to be here in a house undivided, a house joined together to welcome a stranger from a distant land," she said.

"Among all these faces are some I saw while I was under house arrest, and some I saw after I was released from house arrest," said Ms Suu Kyi, acknowledging strong support from US lawmakers during her 17 years of house arrest.

The Oval Office setting for the first meeting between the two Nobel Peace laureates afforded Ms Suu Kyi's visit some of the trappings normally reserved for visiting foreign presidents and prime ministers.

However the White House kept the meeting low key, apparently treading carefully lest it allow the Suu Kyi events upstage Burma, also known as Myanmar.

News photographers were allowed in briefly but not television cameras or print reporters. Mr Obama and Ms Suu Kyi met for about half an hour.

Mr Obama, seeking re-election in November, seized the chance to meet Ms Suu Kyi on the second day of her US tour.

The encounter could help him highlight what many see as a foreign policy accomplishment of his administration in helping to push Burma's generals onto the path of democratic change.

The president expressed his admiration for Ms Suu Kyi's courage and personal sacrifice in championing democracy and human rights over the years, the White House said in a statement after the meeting.

Mr Obama welcomed the Asian nation's democratic transition and the recent progress made by Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party and President Thein Sein.