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Burma's Military Ruler Sets Conditions for Talks With Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi


Burma's state media say the country's military ruler is willing to meet with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as the crackdown against pro-democracy activists continues.

State media reported Thursday that General Than Shwe told United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari this week that he is willing to meet directly with the opposition leader if she gives up her support for confrontation and sanctions against the government.

Gambari, who met with both figures during his trip to Burma, is preparing to report Thursday to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on last week's bloody crackdown in Rangoon.

Mr. Ban said Wednesday that Gambari delivered a strong message to the ruling generals. But the secretary-general said he could not call the trip a success.

Witnesses say the military government has rounded up more activists in night-time raids in Rangoon. State media Thursday put the number of arrests over the past week at more than 2,000.

Burmese authorities today released a U.N. staff member along with her two relatives and driver who were detained Wednesday.

The body of Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai, who was killed covering protests in Rangoon a week ago Thursday, was returned today to Japan, where an autopsy is to be performed.

Some military officers are refusing to follow orders, and there are reports of dissension in the military's ranks. One former colonel told VOA in an interview in Bangkok that he fled Burma because he could not follow orders to use violence.

Burmese officials say the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters left 10 people dead. Dissidents put the number of fatalities at 200.

On Friday, Gambari will brief the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council on the situation in Burma. The U.N. secretary-general says his special envoy was assured of a visit to Burma in November.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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