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Opposition says no move on talks

Aung San Suu Kyi says she had not yet heard from the junta despite the appointment of a moderate general to hold talks with her.

world Updated: Oct 10, 2007 11:19 IST


The detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Wednesday that she had not yet heard from the junta despite the appointment of a moderate general to hold talks with her.

Under pressure from the United Nations after its deadly crackdown on anti-government protests, the junta appointed Aung Kyi, a general seen as a moderate, to coordinate contacts with the Nobel peace prize winner.

But a spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD) party said that Aung Kyi had yet to make any contact.

"The authorities have seen a need to open a process of dialogue by appointing a liaison officer. It is still too early to welcome him, because we do not know what he will do or when the dialogue will start," spokesman Nyan Win said.

"We haven't got any information on whether he has already met with Aung San Suu Kyi," he said.

The military last week said that junta leader Than Shwe was willing to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for most of the past 18 years.

But it said those talks would come with strict conditions attached, including a demand that she drop support for the international community to slap more sanctions on Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

The NLD, which won 1990 elections but has never been allowed to govern, issued a statement Tuesday insisting that any talks be held without conditions.

"The statement we released yesterday was not a rejection" of the government's offer, Nyan Win said. "We just want to let the people know the real situation."

The party denied that it had called for sanctions against Myanmar, although Aung San Suu Kyi has publicly discouraged any foreign investment.

The appointment of Aung Kyi, who has a track record of dealing with the United Nations, was the latest in a series of small gestures apparently aimed at appeasing UN member states.

A bloody junta crackdown on peaceful protests led by Buddhist monks in Yangon last month left at least 13 people dead and roused an international outcry.

The United States, France and Britain are pushing for a UN Security Council statement this week condemning the regime, but Myanmar's ally China is leading a drive to soften its tone.

In an apparent attempt to forestall any punitive UN action, the junta has made a series of conciliatory moves.

Over the weekend, state media trumpeted the release of nearly half of the more than 2,100 people arrested during September's rallies, and said the military had donated thousands of dollars as well as food and medicines to monasteries.

But at the same time, the regime has used state media to warn that nearly 1,000 people still being held over the protests could face jail sentences.

The protests began in mid-August over outrage at an overnight hike in fuel prices that left many commuters unable even to afford the bus fare to work.

But the movement took off in late September when Buddhist monks led up to 100,000 supporters onto the streets in peaceful marches that became the most potent threat to the regime in almost two decades.

The protesters were only silenced when the junta unleashed baton charges, tear gas and live rounds on the crowds.

First Published: Oct 10, 2007 11:08 IST