Burma Softens Suu Kyi stand

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Burma ‘softens’ Suu Kyi stance Hua Hin – Burma’s prime minister told Asian counterparts Saturday that the ruling junta could relax the conditions of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention, a Japanese official said.

The Nobel Peace laureate had “softened” her attitude towards the military regime since her house arrest was extended in August for a further 18 months, the official quoted Burmese premier Thein Sein as saying.

But while Thein Sein announced at a regional summit in Thailand that Burma also wants elections next year to be “inclusive”, he would not say if Suu Kyi would be allowed to participate, the official said.

“(The Burmese government) believes that Aung San Suu Kyi seems to have softened her attitude towards the authorities,” Japanese delegation spokesman Kazuo Kodama quoted Thein Sein as telling leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China, Japan and South Korea.

Kodama said that the Burmese regime “thinks if Aung San Suu Kyi maintains a good attitude it is possible that Burmese authorities will relax the current measures.

“The (Burmese) government is… making preparations to make (next year’s) election (an) inclusive election. The government would like to ensure all the stakeholders will take part in such a process.”

The regime has faced huge pressure, especially from the West, for its detention of Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 of the last 20 years in detention.

The junta said after she was convicted in August over an incident in which an American man swam to her lakeside home that her latest spell under house arrest could be cut “if she lives well in the suspended sentence.”

The United States last month announced that it would seek to engage the reclusive junta, although stressing that it would not ease sanctions without progress on democracy, and is sending a rare “fact-finding” mission there soon.

Japan’s Kodama said Thein Sein had told the meeting his country wanted good relations with the outside world.

“(The government) believes that the US government seems to have softened its position on (Burma)… which is welcomed by the government,” Kodama said.

Asean nations have faced western criticism for their failure to take on fellow member Burma over its rights record, while China is the junta’s closest ally and supplier of arms. (AFP)

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