Suu Kyi ‘would snub US senator’

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi would likely refuse to meet with US senator Jim Webb on looming visit to Burma, long-time party colleague Win Tin has said.

Webb is due to visit Burma this week as part of a regional delegation that will also take him to South Korea and Thailand. His last trip to Burma, in August 2009, secured the release of US citizen John Yettaw, who was imprisoned for swimming to Suu Kyi’s Rangoon compound.

But, said Win Tin, the visit “would not be welcome” by members of the NLD: “I do not believe that NLD general secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will want to meet him also,” he added.

Webb was criticised by members of Burma’s pro-democracy movement for his inability to pressure the junta to free Suu Kyi whilst successfully bringing Yettaw back to the US.

Some also see his anti-sanctions stance as too soft on the ruling generals. Win Tin questioned whether his trip was related to murmurings in the US senate about ramping up sanctions.

“So are you going to talk about ending those sanctions again? Are you also going to give advice to the military government on ways to end the sanctions? If you do, we are not going to stand for it,” Win Tin said.

Phyo Min Thein, chairman of the Union Democratic Alliance, a party which has registered to contest the elections this year, said he will be issuing a three-point proposal to Webb similar to one presented to US assistant secretary of state, Kurt Campbell, who visited Burma earlier this month.

“If the government wants to ensure fairness, independent international experts should be brought in to monitor…the elections,” he said. “I will ask Mr Jim Webb to persuade the Burmese government to do that.”

He added that he would press Webb to urge the junta to form a transition government comprising military and civilian officials before the elections, which many regard as a sham aimed at cementing military rule in Burma.

Webb’s visit coincides with the scheduled visit to Burma by the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao who is due to meet junta chief Than Shwe to discuss strengthening trade and cooperation. China’s foreign ministry said that bilateral trade between the two countries last year reached more than $US2.9 billion.

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