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Kalam discusses Suu Kyi with Myanmar leader

President Abdul kalam has told Senior General Than Shwe that India is interested in the pro-democracy leader's well being.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 13:17 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

India has taken up the detention of pro-democracyleader Aung San Suu Kyiwiththe military junta at the highest level with President APJ Abdul Kalam telling Senior General Than Shwe that New Delhi was "interested in her well-being".

"I have discussed Aung San Suu Kyi. India has a lot of friendship with her father (General Aung San). Naturally our people are interested in her well- being," Kalam told reporters early on Tuesday on his way home from a six-day trip to Myanmar and Mauritius about his conversation with the Myanmar head of state.

"The general said he'll take up India's interest... about the well-being of Aung San Suu Kyi with his team and he'll come back to us," the president added.

Interestingly, the issue of the Nobel Laureate, who has been under detention for much of the last 18 years, came up during a one-on-one between the two leaders at the farewell call when Kalam was leaving Myanmar after a three-day visit March 11.

Officials said Aung San Suu Kyi was not discussed during the delegation-level talks, but brought up separately when State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) chief Than Shwe was seeing off the Indian president at the airport.

The two leaders also spoke of multiparty democracy. "The general has a seven-point plan to take Myanmar to democracy," Kalam said.

The president had earlier during his talks with Than Shwe offered India's help in terms of institution and capacity building, like electoral practices, as "we had a well established democracy".

Kalam's intervention with Myanmar on Aung San Suu Kyi comes soon after US President George W Bush said India and the US were agreed on the "deplorable" state of human rights in Myanmar and the need for her release.

He had said this with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by his side during his visit to India last fortnight.

Six days later on March 8, Kalam left for his Myanmar visit.

India's democracy record has been under fire from Myanmar's pro-democracy groups for his engagement with the junta.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who represents Myanmar's best hope for a return to democracy, is the daughter of the country's independence hero General Aung San, who was assassinated in 1947.

She came to Yangon from England - after studying at the Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi - in 1988 when her country was in the midst of political turmoil.

"I could not, as my father's daughter remain indifferent to all that was going on," she said in August 1988. She was put under house arrest for six years until July 1995, was back in detention in September 2000 when she tried to go to Mandalay.

After that, she was released in May 2002 and again confined following an attack on NLD leaders by pro-junta activists.

At present, she remains imprisoned in a large rambling complex in Yangon's University Road.

First Published: Mar 14, 2006 13:17 IST