Suu Kyi meets again with junta officer

Dec 9, 2009 (AFP), Burma’s detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with the junta’s liaison officer Wednesday, a state official told AFP, in the latest sign of dialogue between the two sides.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said labour minister Aung Kyi, the government’s official liaison with Suu Kyi, met her for 45 minutes at the government guesthouse in Rangoon, but gave no details of their discussions.

It is the third meeting between the pair since the beginning of October. It comes after the country’s Supreme Court agreed last week to hear a final appeal against her ongoing house arrest.

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, 64, was ordered to spend another 18 months in detention in August after being convicted over an incident in which a US man swam to her house. A lower court rejected an initial appeal in October.

Burma’s military rulers have kept Suu Kyi in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, ever since they refused to recognise her political party’s landslide victory in the country’s last democratic elections in 1990.

Wednesday’s meeting is a further sign of shifting relations between Suu Kyi and the government since she wrote in September to military head Senior General Than Shwe, offering her cooperation in getting Western sanctions lifted.

She wrote a second time in November, requesting a meeting with Than Shwe. But state media said Wednesday that Suu Kyi was "insincere" and "dishonest" in sending the letters, accusing her of leaking them to foreign media and of a "highly questionable" change in tack after years of favouring sanctions.

"It was she and the party that called for international sanctions against Myanmar [Burma]… Her offer does not conform to what she did and said previously, and is highly questionable," the editorial in the New Light of Myanmar said.

"Frankly speaking, I think it was an attempt to put pressure on the ruling government through the media," it added. The editorial said that by using the media, Suu Kyi risked damaging her case.

"Making dishonest use of the media like this could make the other side’s direction change," said the English-language daily state mouthpiece.

But other recent developments have suggested a slight relaxing of tensions between the two sides. Suu Kyi met with Aung Kyi twice in five days in early October, the first such talks since January 2008, and met western diplomats in Rangoon.

In November the regime allowed her to make a rare appearance in front of the media after holding talks with US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the highest level official from Washington to visit Burma for 14 years.

The extension of Suu Kyi’s house arrest after a trial at Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison sparked international outrage as it effectively keeps her off the stage for elections promised by the regime some time in 2010.

But in recent months the United States, and more recently the European Union, have shifted towards a policy of greater engagement with the Burmese regime after economic sanctions have failed to bear fruit.

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