10/05/2007, 00.00
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Doubts about general’s offer of talks with Aung San Suu Kyi

Junta chief sets preconditions for meeting pro-democracy leader. Her party announces it will vet the offer. US chargé d’affaires is invited to Naypyidaw but it is not known who will receive her. UN envoy Gambari will brief Security Council today whilst Burmese Christians fast and pray for peace.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – For Burma’s opposition the offer of direct talks made by the country’s military junta following international pressures to end weeks of violent repression of popular protests is a good sign. The National League for Democracy (NLD) announced today that its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will consider General Than Shwe’s offer. A US representative is also coming to Myanmar for a special meeting but it is not known who she will meet. In an apparent sign of further openness the general, who is largely responsible for the violent repression against monks and civilians of the last few weeks, did invite in fact US chargé d’affaires Shari Villarosa to the capital Naypyidaw. It remains difficult however to evaluate the significance of the general’s offer.

UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari is scheduled to brief the Security Council today about his recent visit to Myanmar. During his four-day stay he held separate meetings with the generals and the NLD leader in an attempt to mediate between them and facilitate their meeting.

State TV yesterday reported that military junta chief, Than Shwe, set a number of preconditions for starting talks with the opposition. He wants Ms Aung San Suu Kyi to end her confrontation with the government and her party’s support for international sanctions and the "utter devastation" of the regime (what the latter meant was not given).

For an NLD spokesperson, such preconditions indicate that the generals want the Nobel Prize laureate to give up her fight for democracy for which she has already spent 12 of the past 18 years in jail or under house arrest,.

In New York the UN secretary general, the representatives of Myanmar as well as Singapore, the latter in its capacity as president of the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which includes the former Burma, will attend the open session of the UN Security Council.

For experts though whatever initiative the United Nations, ASEAN or the European Union may take they will face the opposition of China, Myanmar’s main supporter.

China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said that for Beijing the problems in Myanmar were “basically internal and no internationally-imposed solution could help the situation.”

In the meantime, spontaneous demonstrations continue across the country, albeit on an irregular basis. Groups of 30 to 40 people meet and disperse as quickly as soon as security forces appear.

Yesterday the Christian community of Myitkyina, Kachin State, began fasting as part of a prayer campaign for peace and the release of recently arrested demonstrators.

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See also
Aung San Suu Kyi meets junta official
Myanmar playing “tricks” with the international community
Doctors visit a sick Aung San Suu Kyi
Generals end curfew, not repression
Gambari leaves empty handed but a new generation of activists is emerging


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