Myanmar's Suu Kyi seeks meeting with junta chief

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2009 9:55 AM

Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has sent a letter to the head of the country's junta seeking a meeting to discuss how they can cooperate for the national interest, a spokesman for her party said Monday.

The initiative is the latest move is try to break the political deadlock that began when Suu Kyi's party won a 1990 general election. The military refused to allow it to take power and increased repression of the country's pro-democracy movement.

Suu Kyi's party has long sought a dialogue with the government, but its advances have mostly been spurned.

Nyan Win, spokesman of the National League for Democracy, said that in a letter last Wednesday to junta chief Senior Gen. Than Shwe, Suu Kyi also sought permission to meet at her home with other members of her party's central executive committee.

"Daw Aung Suu Kyi stated in her letter that she hoped to work in cooperation with the government in the interest of the country and to allow her to explain the matter to the Senior General," said Nyan Win, who told reporters that the letter will be released on Tuesday. 'Daw' is a term of respect used for older women.

Suu Kyi is not known to have met Than Shwe since 2002. He is reputed to harbor a deep dislike for the 64-year-old Nobel Peace laureate.

The junta's poor human rights record and failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government caused the United States and another Western nations to isolate it with economic and political sanctions. However, the Obama administration, acknowledging that such moves failed to foster reforms, is now seeking to engage it through high-level talks instead of simply applying sanctions.

Earlier this month, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and another State Department official made the highest-level visit to Myanmar in 14 years.

At a meeting with Asian leaders last week in Singapore, President Barack Obama told the gathering _ Myanmar Prime Minister Gen. Thein Sein included _ that the junta must free Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

At the same time, Suu Kyi has seemingly eased her hard line against the military government, which had included implicit support for Western sanctions.

This is the second letter Suu Kyi sent to the junta leader since she was sentenced to 18 months' more house arrest for harboring an uninvited American citizen.

In September, she wrote the junta leader stating her willingness to cooperate with the military government to have international sanctions lifted, and seeking permission to meet with Western diplomats in order to understand the positions of the governments that imposed the sanctions.

Suu Kyi was allowed to meet the diplomats. She was also permitted to meet her party senior leaders, but she declined the arrangement as authorities had excluded detained NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo from the meeting.

Asked if and when the NLD expected a response from the government, Nyan Win said: "If the meeting takes place (with the junta leader), I am hopeful that things will happen for the best."