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Burma Hails US Senator's Visit as Success

Burma's state-run media say a recent visit by U.S. Senator Jim Webb was a success for both sides that could improve the tense relations between the two countries.

The New Light of Myanmar
newspaper said Tuesday in a commentary that the visit was "the first step towards marching to a 1,000 mile destination."

The Democratic senator on Sunday secured the release of American John Yettaw, who was sentenced last week to seven years hard labor for an unauthorized visit to the lakeside home of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Webb said after leaving Burma with Yettaw on Sunday that he too hoped his visit would lead to a new approach in U.S.-Burma ties, including a possible loosening of economic sanctions.

Webb met with military leader Than Shwe Saturday and unsuccessfully called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sentenced to another 18 months of house arrest in the Yettaw incident.

Thailand's foreign ministry issued a statement Tuesday welcoming the release of the American and wishing Burma would also grant amnesty and full freedom to Aung San Suu Kyi.

The statement added that Thailand viewed such leniency on the part of Burma, based on a humanitarian reason, as a positive development.