Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with a senior Myanmar government official Monday for the first time since her release from house arrest, and he described their talks as a "first step" toward further cooperation in the military-dominated country.
Suu Kyi met for 70 minutes with Labor and Social Welfare Minister Aung Kyi at a government guest house. Aung Kyi said without elaborating that the two discussed the rule of law and ways to eliminate misunderstandings in the interests of the good of the country and the people.
Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, the country's main opposition leader who was released from detention last year, has repeatedly asked for a dialogue with the government to solve a political deadlock focusing on the military's failure to establish democracy. Previous such initiatives have never gotten far.
Asked what she thought of Monday's meeting, Suu Kyi said only, "We expect results that are beneficial for the country and the people."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the meeting and encourages future contacts and dialogue, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
"In line with the international community's expectations and Myanmar's national interest, the secretary-general hopes such efforts will continue with a view to building mutual understanding through genuine dialogue," Nesirky said. "He also calls upon the government of Myanmar to consider early action on the release of political prisoners in that country."
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a 1990 general election but was barred from taking power by the army, which instead cracked down on political dissenters. Her party boycotted a fresh election held last November that was internationally denounced as unfair.
The elected civilian government that took office in March is led by retired military figures, and the constitution ensures the military retains dominance.
Last week, at a forum of Southeast Asian nations in Indonesia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Myanmar to open a dialogue with the opposition and release political prisoners to win the trust of the international community.
Under the junta, Aung Kyi was appointed "relations minister" in 2007 to facilitate contacts with Suu Kyi, apparently because he had a moderate reputation among the hard-line military leaders. They had nine meetings during her house arrest, but no tangible outcome was ever seen.
Asked Monday about the earlier meetings, Aung Kyi denied there had been no progress, but added that this latest meeting would have better results.
Detained for much of the past two decades, Suu Kyi was released from house arrest just after the national election in November.