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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                      13  August 2011

Talks with Suu Kyi continue

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Burma's army-backed regime held out an olive branch to its critics Friday, pledging to continue talks with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and to allow a visit by a UN human rights envoy.

In a rare news conference, Burmese information minister Kyaw Hsan (pictured in 2008) on Friday said the nominally civilian government, which came to power after a controversial election last November, hoped to get "successful results" from cooperating democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a rare news conference, information minister Kyaw Hsan said the nominally civilian government, which came to power after a controversial election last November, hoped to get "successful results" from cooperating with Suu Kyi.

The comments came shortly before Suu Kyi held a second round of talks with labour minister Aung Kyi in Rangoon, that she later said had covered "all sectors".

A joint statement released following the discussions said both sides would work together for "peace and stability" and the "development of the country". It also said they would avoid views that could "lead to conflicts".

Kyaw Hsan earlier said the government would "continue these kinds of meetings for the benefit of the people" at the first media briefing in the capital Naypyidaw since taking power.

He also said Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, who was last allowed into the country in February 2010, would return without specifying a date.

Nearly 100 reporters and around twice as many officials were invited to the media briefing.

Suu Kyi was released from seven straight years of house arrest days after the controversial election and was warned by the regime in June to stay out of politics.

But talks with the government in July, followed by an open letter offering to help broker peace in conflicts between the ever-dominant Burma military and ethnic minority rebels, suggested an intent to maintain a political role.

Initial discussions with Aung Kyi, who was the liaison between Suu Kyi and the military junta before she was locked up, came just days after the United States called for "concrete" progress towards democracy.

Washington has since named its first special envoy to Burma to pursue President Barack Obama's policy of engaging the military-backed government.

The United States and the international community have called for a number of reforms in Burma, which was ruled by the military for nearly half a century, including the release of around 2,000 political prisoners.

Suu Kyi is now due to make her first overtly political trip outside Rangoon since she was freed, with a one-day excursion to the Bago region, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Rangoon, on August 14.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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