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Myanmar Junta invites United States for talks

world Updated: Oct 07, 2007 09:13 IST

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Myanmar's ruling military Junta has invited the US envoy in Yangon for talks on Friday, in what is said to be the first high-level bilateral meeting since a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the State Department said on Thursday.

"They have requested our charge de affairs to travel to the capital for a briefing with members of the government," department spokesman Sean Mccormack told reporters.

The envoy, Shari Villarosa, does not know the topic of discussions at the meeting scheduled in the Junta's administrative capital Naypyidaw, he said. "I don't know what she is going to hear."

But McCormack said the United States would send a "very clear message" to the military generals, that they need to start a "meaningful" dialogue with all democratic opposition groups, stop the violent crackdown on peaceful protests, encourage economic and political reforms and greater freedom and openness.

News of the meeting came as Myanmar's state media reported today that the junta chief Senior General Than Shwe would be willing to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi if she meets several preconditions, including ending her support for sanctions on the regime.

He reportedly made the offer to meet with the detained Nobel Peace Prize winner during his talks, day before yesterday with UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

The United States has been spearheading political, economic and diplomatic sanctions on the military regime, including a ban on investment and imports.

The junta also announced on Thursday that more than 2,000 people were arrested during its deadly crackdown on anti-government protests during the last week, acknowledging that some of the detainees were simply bystanders.

The crackdown left at least 13 dead as security forces used baton charges, tear gas, and live weapons fire to break up the peaceful protests.