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News

Suu Kyi holds talks with foreign envoys after release from house arrest

Nobel peace laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released May 6 after 19 months under house arrest.

It was a small victory for the opposition, which has a long way to go before it can see the military regime give up power to an elected civilian government.

However, her release and the junta's promise of greater political freedom — made in a statement to the foreign media — were blacked out in the state-controlled media.

The 56-year-old leader held talks on May 7 with European Union and U.S. diplomats as well as leaders from her own National League for Democracy.

The European Union and the United States are among the main backers of Suu Kyi, criticizing the junta for its suppression of democracy and human rights.

Sanctions have been imposed on Myanmar in a bid to force political change, a policy that has been endorsed by her.

Some observers say that the junta freed Suu Kyi in a bid to have the sanctions lifted. So far Suu Kyi has not indicated that she will change her policy.

Others say the junta may be coming around to accepting political change, cajoled by its Asian neighbors, especially Malaysia.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962. The current junta came to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy movement. It annulled the results of the 1990 general elections in which Suu Kyi's party won. She was put under house arrest from 1989 to 1995 and again in September 2000 until May 6.

But with U.N. special envoy Razali Ismael's mediation the junta and Suu Kyi have been holding closed-door reconciliation talks since October 2000.

Shukan ST: May 17, 2002

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