Thursday, December 17, 2009

US welcomes Suu Kyi’s meet with party leaders

by Salai Pi Pi
Thursday, 17 December 2009 19:42

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The U.S. Department of State yesterday welcomed the Burmese regime allowing Aung San Suu Kyi to pay her respects to three senior leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Detained Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to meet the 92 year-old NLD Chairman, Aung Shwe, 88 year-old Central Executive Committee (CEC) member Lun Tin and the party’s Secretary U Lwin in the state guest house ‘Seinlaekanthar’ in Rangoon, former capital of Burma for about an hour on Wednesday.

Ian Kelly, spokesman of the U.S. Department in a daily Press briefing on Wednesday said the U.S. welcomed the decision of the Burmese junta to allow Suu Kyi to meet three senior members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the NLD.

“We hope this is a step towards a meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and the entire Central Executive Committee of the NLD,” said Kelly.

During the Press briefing, Kelly also reiterated US’s call to the Burmese regime to have talks with Aung San Suu Kyi and the opposition including ethnic groups to address the political deadlock in Burma.

“We continue to urge the Burmese Government to engage Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic opposition, ethnic leaders, and other stakeholders in a genuine dialogue to find a positive way ahead for the country,” Kelly said.

The meeting on Wednesday was in response to the request made by detained Burmese democracy leader to Burmese military supremo Senior General Than Shwe in Burma’s capital Nayphidaw in her second letter sent last month.

Aung San Suu Kyi, in her second letter, requested Than Shwe to allow a meeting with her party executive committee members and to visit senior leaders of her party to pay her respects to them. The letter also proposed a face-to-face meeting between her and Than Shwe to further discuss activities related to efforts to ease western sanctions on Burma.

Since the letter sent to Than Shwe last month, talks between the detained pro-democracy leader and Burmese military junta’s Liaison Minister Aung Kyi at state guest house in Rangoon occurred three times including the last meeting on November 9.

“As far as I know, all the leaders are happy and satisfied with the meeting. Aung San Suu Kyi said she was happy as it has been a long time since she last met party leaders,” Nyan Win, spokesperson of NLD told Mizzima on Wednesday and added the meeting discussed reorganizing the party leadership.

Meanwhile, Mark Farmaner, Director of London-based Burma Campaign UK on Thursday said the meeting on Wednesday, which had been requested by Aung San Suu Kyi is not of major significance as it was a mere attempt by the Burmese generals to get the support of the international community.

“We know the generals are very good at just doing small things to get a lot of praise from the international community but it doesn’t actually mean anything really significant,” Farmaner said, “We still have over 2000 political prisoners languishing in Burmese jails. We still have attacks going on against ethnic people.”

Farmaner said unless Burmese generals free all political prisoners including the Nobel Laureate, the recent development will not lead to any political change in Burma.

“Until all the political prisoners are released, we will know generals are not serious about real political reforms in Burma,” he said.

The US imposed sanctions against the Burmese regime since the late 1990s and tightened the measures after the Burmese military brutally cracked down on peaceful demonstrations led by Buddhist monks in 2007.

Following the Obama administration taking over the White House, the US adopted a new policy of engagement with Burma and sent two senior diplomats Kurt Campbell and his deputy, Scot Marciel to Burma and had talks with senior military leaders.

While there was no tangible result from Campbell's two-day trip to Burma, the US is not sure yet about the next round of talks with the Burmese generals.

“I’m not sure yet whether anything has been scheduled,” Kelly said in Press briefing on Wednesday, “I mean, obviously we have an embassy there and there’s quite a bit of engagement on that level, but I’m not sure when the next round of formal talks are scheduled.”