Myanmar's government urged pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday to officially register her National League for Democracy as a party, a step that would imply its acceptance of the government's legitimacy and also allow it to legally take part in politics.
Information Minister Kyaw Hsan's suggestion at a rare news conference came two days before Suu Kyi plans to make her first political foray into the countryside since her release from seven years of house arrest last November.
It also came as she held a second meeting with a government minister in what appeared to be preliminary talks on establishing a dialogue.
Kyaw Hsan said the government has not cracked down on the NLD's failure to register in the interests of national reconciliation.
If Suu Kyi's group reaches an accommodation with the government, it could serve as a reason for Western nations to lift political and economic embargoes on the country that have hindered development and pushed it into dependence on neighboring China.
What Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi would expect in exchange for registering her party is unclear, though it could include the freedom of some of the country's 2,000 political prisoners.
The previous military government ordered the NLD's dissolution after it refused to register for last November's general election, which it called unfair and undemocratic. The NLD contends its deregistration by the government was illegal, but a lawsuit seeking its reinstatement was dismissed. It nonetheless continues to carry out organized activities.
A new nominally civilian elected government took power in March. However, it is led by retired military figures, and the constitution ensures that the military retains dominance.
Suu Kyi's last political trip to the countryside in 2003 drew huge crowds but also the wrath of the then-ruling military junta, whose supporters ambushed her entourage. She was detained and later placed under house arrest.
The state-controlled media have warned her against making political trips, saying they could trigger chaos and riots.
Also on Friday, Suu Kyi held her second meeting with Labor and Social Welfare Minister Aung Kyi. They met previously on July 25, though details of those talks were not announced.
Kyaw Hsan said both sides agreed Friday to work "toward more cooperation in implementing democracy according to the constitution," but gave no details.
He added that future meetings were in the works.
Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the past two decades under house arrest, has repeatedly asked for a dialogue with the government. Previous such initiatives have never gotten far.
Suu Kyi's party overwhelmingly won a 1990 general election but was barred from taking power by the army.