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Senior US Official to Visit Burma Amid Election Concerns

U.S. diplomats say a senior U.S. envoy will arrive in Burma Sunday to discuss the country's election plans.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Kurt Campbell is expected to talk with Burmese opposition figures along with officials of the military during his two-day visit.

Campbell visited Burma last November when he met with government officials and detained Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He was the highest-level U.S. official to visit the country in decades. The visit was part of the Obama administration's effort to engage the isolated Southeast Asian State.

The United States has strongly criticized Burma for its election plans that effectively exclude Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party, the NLD.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called the election rules "deeply flawed" and "patently unfair."

Also Friday, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution condemning the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and called on Burma to permit credible and fair elections. The author of the resolution, Senator Judd Gregg, a Republican from New Hampshire, said the upcoming Burmese elections will be a "farce" unless the military government expands political participation.

On Thursday, the NLD announced it would disband rather than submit to government terms for the upcoming elections. Under Burma's new election law, the party would have to expel political prisoners from its ranks. It would also have to accept the nullification of results of the country's last elections, in 1990, won by the NLD.

Shortly after that announcement, leading members of the NLD said they are forming a breakaway faction to compete in upcoming elections.

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