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Australian Foreign Minister Disappointed with Burma Trip

Australia's foreign minister says Burma's military government continues to make only vague promises about democratic reform. Alexander Downer spent two days in Burma, but had little positive to say.

He told reporters he pressed the military government hard on quickly opening substantive talks on political reform with the democratic opposition.

"I made it clear, that in terms of re-instituting dialogue with the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi, it is important that that gets under way in the next week or two, not this time next year, was the exact phrase I used with them," he said.

But Mr. Downer said he came away disappointed, because the ruling generals were short on specifics.

"They said they are committed to the reform process, but they gave me no timetable at all," he said. "So, I have nothing to offer on that front. I just don't know what sort of a timetable they are adhering to."

Mr. Downer met with the head of the opposition National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, who told him she was "not very confident" that the military was preparing to bring democracy to Burma.

It has been 12 years since the National League for Democracy won elections, but was prevented from taking power by the military.

The NLD has been repressed and many of its members imprisoned. That began to change two years ago, when U.N. envoy Razali Ismail brokered a series of meetings.

Burma's government has lifted some restrictions on the NLD, but the party and the international community have expressed frustration that the talks have not produced any concrete plan for political reconciliation.