BURMA SAYS SEEKS UNDERSTANDING WITH AUNG SAN SUU KYI


2003-12-08
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Prime Minister rules out third party involvement

Burma's Prime Minister, Gen. Khin Nyunt, has said that his military government is trying to gain what he calls mutual understanding with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, currently under house arrest at her home in Rangoon.

"We are doing our best to have better understanding of each other," he said in a rare interview with the publicly funded Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK), ruling out any outside involvement in the junta's dealings with the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader.

"When a third party is involved, the efforts for mutual understanding will be disturbed and causes confusion, so we are taking precautionary measures," Khin Nyunt said, referred to Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention.

He declined to comment on a timetable for Aung San Suu Kyi's release, NHK reported. "First, a national convention will be held, followed by drafting of a new constitution," Khin Nyunt said of the road map. "The national convention will be the most important step (toward democracy). But it is difficult to clearly say when it will be held."

Khin Nyunt told NHK that he wished Japan would release more economic assistance for his country. "To push for democratization of our country, it is important that we build a solid economic foundation. Japan's current economic assistance is not enough, but I believe Japan would extend a helping hand," he told NHK.

Aung San Suu Kyi was kept at a secret location after her arrest on May 30 following an ambush of her motorcade by government-led gangs near Depayin township in the north of the country.

According to eyewitness testimonies recorded for RFA's Burmese service, as many as 100 people died during the violence, which was planned and orchestrated by the junta.

The government said it was holding her 'for her own safety' until September, when she went to hospital for an operation and then to her lakeside home.

She is now refusing to accept her freedom until key members of the NLD detained at the same time are released.

Khin Nyunt, a powerful general who is also head of military intelligence, set out a seven-stage "road map to democracy" in August, promising to negotiate with the NLD and other opposition and ethnic minority groups. However, the plan was short on detail, and lacked a timetable for implementation.

The Burmese deputy foreign minister, Khin Maung Win, will attend a Thai-hosted multinational forum next week on the "road map" to democracy, which will be attended by representatives from Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Britain, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Burma. Khin Maung Win had said Rangoon would boycott the meeting if its purpose was to pressure the military government. #####

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