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US, Burma Hold Rare Talks


Senior diplomats from the United States met in China this week with officials from military-ruled Burma to discuss human rights and the detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters Thursday that Burmese officials requested the meeting which was held Tuesday in Beijing.

Casey said officials had a "frank exchange of views," but added that Burma gave no indication it was prepared to release Aung San Suu Kyi or other political prisoners.

The high-level meeting was the first of its kind since 2003. The United States has a long-standing policy of not meeting with Burmese leaders in their own country unless they are allowed to visit Aung San Suu Kyi.

Eric John, the State Department official responsible for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, led the U.S. delegation that met with three cabinet-level Burmese officials.

Burma's Information Minister Kyaw San, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nyan Win and Culture Minister Khin Aung Myint all attended the meeting.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been under some form of detention for most of the past 18 years. Her political party, the National League for Democracy, won elections in 1990, but the government has never accepted those results.

The United Nations estimates there are 1,100 political prisoners in Burma.

Burma has been ruled by the military since 1962.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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