ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
October 6, 2007
Democracy leader to consider offer to meet junta leader
Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will consider positively a heavily conditioned offer to meet the junta leader, her party said Friday, as a US envoy headed to meet leaders of the isolated regime.
The ruling generals made the offers of dialogue as the United Nations readied to discuss the violent crackdown on the largest pro-democracy demonstrations in almost 20 years in the country formerly called Burma.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the past 18 years under house arrest, is a living symbol of the pro-democracy movement that last week brought up to 100,000 people onto the streets of Yangon.
While the top general, Than Shwe, is known to despise her, Myanmar's state media late Thursday said he was willing to see the Nobel peace prize winner if she ends her support for sanctions against the regime.
Aung San Suu Kyi would consider the offer "in a positive light," said Nyan Win, a spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD). "It's up to Daw (Ms) Aung San Suu Kyi to decide," he said.
The regime extended the rare offer of talks as UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari prepared to brief the UN security council on his four-day trip this week to Myanmar, during which he met both the top general and the opposition leader.
The US chief of mission in Myanmar, Shari Villarosa, was Friday due to pass on a "very clear message" in her talks with the generals to start "meaningful" dialogue with the opposition, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
Villarosa -- whose government has spearheaded global protests against Myanmar -- was invited by the regime to its remote capital Naypyidaw but had received no word on whom she would meet, US officials said.
Aung San Suu Kyi, whose NLD won 1990 elections by a landslide but was never allowed to rule, continues to symbolise the nation's democratic aspirations.
Last week, she was briefly allowed to greet some of the country's revered Buddhist monks before the junta came down hard on the protesters, killing at least 13 people and detaining more than 2,000, according to state media.
The rallies had begun with small-scale protests after a massive mid-August hike in fuel prices but swelled into the biggest threat to the hardline regime since student-led demonstrations in 1988, which were put down in a massacre.
Although the security presence on Yangon's streets has eased, soldiers continue to enforce a curfew and raid activists' home overnight, residents say. Many Yangon monasteries are empty, leaving neighbours to wonder if the monks have been arrested, injured or worse.
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