EU meets Suu Kyi, democratic parties

A delegation of senior EU representatives yesterday met with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her lakeside home in Rangoon before holding talks with opposition and third force politicians.

Few details of the meetings have been released, although the EU is believed to have focused on gauging the opinions of a range of stakeholders about conditions in Burma following the election of a new government in March this year.

An anonymous EU official told AFP on Monday that, “This is a first stage aimed at listening to the new Myanmar [Burmese] authorities to gauge their mindset”.

The EU team consisted of the bloc’s special envoy for Burma, Piero Fassino, and Robert Cooper, special adviser to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. They are the first delegation from the EU to visit Burma since elections last year.

“They asked about the situation since the new government and our party’s stance [on the new government],” said Than Than Nu, general secretary of the Democratic Party Myanmar, one of the 11-strong Group of Democratic Party Friends which formed prior to the polls in November last year.

The EU officials also reportedly told the Than Than Nu, who was joined at the meeting by members of the opposition National Democratic Force and the Kayin Development Network, an ethnic Karen civil society group, that they supported their decision to participate in the elections.

A degree of secrecy has surrounded the talks with Suu Kyi, whose decision not to compete in the vote prompted the dissolution of her National League for Democracy party. She told DPA news agency only that the talks “went OK”, but refused to disclose any further information.

Since the formation of a new government in Burma, the EU has somewhat softened its punitive policies against senior officials by suspending a visa ban and asset freeze on four cabinet members.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said yesterday that meetings between government officials and the EU team on Tuesday “focused on strengthening of relations and cooperation”.

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