11/16/2009, 00.00
MYANMAR – UNITED STATES

Aung San Suu Kyi calls for “direct talks” with Senior General Than Shwe

Opposition leader sends personal letter to the military dictatorship. The Nobel Prize winner wants to work with the government for the good of the country. Obama meets Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein and renews his appeal for Suu Kyi’s release.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has sent a personal letter to General Than Shwe, head of Myanmar’s military dictatorship. In it, the Nobel Prize laureate calls for “direct talks” with the government for the good of the nation. Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama yesterday met Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, and renewed his appeal for the release of Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners held in Myanmar.

The letter is dated 11 November but Reuters obtained a copy of the letter today and published it. In it, the 64—year-old Suu Kyi said, “I would like to earnestly request permission to meet you so that we can talk about cooperating with the State Peace and Development Council in working in the interest of the nation.” The State Peace and Development Council or SPDC is the official name of Myanmar’s military junta.

If such a meeting took place, it would be the first face-to-face encounter between opposition and military leaders since 2003.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest, and her sentence has been recently extended for another 18 months in order to exclude her from next year’s elections.

The military junta never recognised the results of the last elections held in 1990, which Ms Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), had won in landslide victory with more than 70 per cent of the vote.

In her letter, the opposition leader thanked the regime for allowing her to meet on 4 November with US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell.

She also asked for permission to visit three senior NLD leaders who are also under house arrest and approval to hold a plenary meeting with leaders of her party in her home before meeting with Than Shwe.

Yesterday US President Barack Obama called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release. In talks with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein, Mr Obama renewed his appeal for the release of the Nobel Prize laureate and all other political prisoners held in Burmese prisons.

Whilst calling for a new policy of dialogue with Myanmar, the US administration has nevertheless set improved human rights in the country as a condition for an end to sanctions against the Asian country.

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