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IANS : Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and senior members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party announced Friday that they were in no position to persuade Western governments to drop their sanctions against the country’s junta.
‘Sanctions imposed by other countries are not the concern of Aung San Suu Kyi. It is a concern of the authorities and related countries,’ said NLD spokesman Nyan Win, after he and three other NLD members met with Suu Kyi at the government’s Sein Le Kan Tha State Guest House in Yangon.
In what was deemed a breakthrough, UN Special Envoy Imbrahim Gambari persuaded Burma’s junta to allow Suu Kyi to meet her fellow-politicians as part of his efforts to start a political dialogue between the military and the opposition.
It was the first such meeting Suu Kyi has been permitted in more than four years. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been under house arrest since mid-2003, and kept in near total isolation.
Senior General Than Shwe, Burma’s military supremo, on Oct 3 told Gambari that he would personally launch talks with Suu Kyi on the preconditions that she stop her ‘confrontational’ tactics and end her support for economic sanctions against Burma.
The preconditions were seen as a tactic to scuttle a political dialogue and place the blame on Suu Kyi.
Burma’s Minister of Relations Aung Kyi, who also met Suu Kyi Friday, told reporters that he would ’smoothen out the matters regarding preconditions set by the government for the dialogue between Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Than Shwe.’
Suu Kyi met with Aung Kyi twice Friday afternoon, before and after she met with the NLD leaders.
So far, the arranged meeting between Suu Kyi and her NLD followers has been the most positive sign of progress Gambari has achieved in his efforts to bring about national reconciliation in Burma.
Gambari departed Burma Thursday after spending six days in the country. It was his second visit since early October, when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dispatched the special envoy to Burma in the wake of a brutal crackdown on monk-led protests in Yangon that left at last ten people dead. Others estimate up to 200 died in the melee.
Suu Kyi passed Gambari a statement Thursday that he released in New York.
‘In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the government in order to make this process of dialogue a success and welcome the necessary good offices of the UN to help facilitate our efforts in this regard,’ her statement said.
There is great scepticism in Burma about the junta’s desire to open a political dialogue with the opposition. Burma has been under military rule for the past 45 years.
Under General Ne Win, who seized power in a coup in 1962, the country was virtually closed to the outside world for two decades as it pursued its disastrous ‘Burmese Way to Socialism.’
In 1988, after a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations that left an estimated 3,000 dead, the army discarded its socialist ideology but has maintained its wariness about the international community, especially Western democracies.
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