Suu Kyi, President Reach 'Agreement'

Burma's president says he is even willing to work with groups who have rejected the country's controversial constitution.
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Military members of Burma's upper house of parliament attend a meeting in the capital Naypyidaw, Aug. 22, 2011.
Military members of Burma's upper house of parliament attend a meeting in the capital Naypyidaw, Aug. 22, 2011.

Burma's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein reached "some political agreements" during their landmark talks last week, according to a spokesman for the opposition leader.

Nyan Win, a spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), said the two leaders discussed "a lot" of ethnic and political issues, as well as issues that were aimed at bringing about peace following decades of war between armed ethnic groups and the government.

"In our view, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the president have reached some political agreements for the benefit of the people, setting aside their differences in views," Nyan Win told RFA.

"Please be patient right now, there will hopefully be good news for the Burmese people and for the international community soon," he said, without elaborating on the so-called agreements.

Thein Sein told his country's parliament on Monday that his government is trying to ease tensions with political groups which still do not accept the country's constitution approved in a 2008 referendum.

The charter, which gives the military a continued prominent role in government, came into effect in January this year.

“Our government is just a few months old.” Thein Sein told lawmakers in his first address since his new government was formed in March. 

"He did not cite his meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday, their first since her release from house arrest last November.

“We do not feel bad about those challenges facing us. We have the Constitution fully endorsed by the public and the democratically elected government. We are willing to work with everyone, whether they share this view or not,” Thein Sein was quoted as saying by Irrawaddy, an online magazine run by Burmese exile journalists.

International community

He also said that his government is ready to work with the international community. Most Western nations maintain diplomatic and economic sanctions on Burma, saying they want to see "genuine" reforms before removing them. 

"We have been trying to stand tall among international and regional organizations as a dutiful member of the world family," he said. "We are ready to cooperate with the international community."

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy had swept elections in 1990 but was barred from taking power. The party was banned by the then ruling military junta before the latest polls in November.

In their meeting Friday, Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein held "frank and friendly discussions" to "find ways and means of cooperation," state-run newspapers reported Saturday with pictures of them greeting each other.

The 66-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate told reporters on Saturday after attending a government-sponsored forum in the capital, Naypyidaw, that she was "happy and satisfied" with the meeting with the president. She did not give details.

The meeting came after series of reform actions taken by the government, including an invitation to armed ethnic groups to hold peace talks and planned changes to Burma's currency system.

Many experts welcomed the actions although they felt more concrete reforms—such as the release of about 2,000 political prisoners—were key to bringing about political reconciliation.

UN envoy

Thein Sein's government this week allowed U.N. rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana to visit the country for the first time in more than a year.

A vocal critic of the Burmese government, Quintana had enraged the generals after his last trip by suggesting that human rights violations in the country may amount to crimes against humanity and could warrant a U.N. inquiry.

In a statement ahead of his visit, Quintana said his mission "takes place in a somehow different political context, with a new government in place" following elections.

He said his "main objective is to assess the human rights situation from that perspective."

Reported by RFA's Burmese service. Translation by Maung Nyo. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.





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