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US Deplores Extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's Detention

The United States has joined U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the European Union in criticizing the six-month extension of Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest. The Nobel Peace Laureate has been under detention most of the time since 1990. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

The United States is deploring the extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest, a move it describes as "another step in the wrong direction" by Burma's military leadership.

Burmese authorities confirmed the six-month extension Monday. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has been under detention most of the time since 1990, when her National League for Democracy party won national elections but was barred by the military from taking power.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in 1991.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's latest term in custody began in May 2003 after an attack on her motorcade by crowd of government supporters.

At a news briefing State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack noted that authorities have yet to charge her with any offense stemming from that incident:

"The United States deplores the extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's detention. Since the brutal attack on her convoy in May 2003, after which she was imprisoned and subsequently transferred to house arrest, the regime has failed to charge Aung San Suu Kyi with any criminal offense, instead making the incredible assertion that she is being held for her own protection," said Mr. McCormack.

The extension came as Burmese authorities prepared for the resumption next week of talks on a new constitution that critics say would cement the military's role in national politics.

Spokesman McCormack said to move the country toward democracy and national reconciliation, the Burmese regime should release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, and initiate a meaningful dialogue with the democratic opposition and ethnic political groups.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday he is "deeply disappointed" by the extension of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest. In Brussels, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, deplored the decision and called it very discouraging for future prospects for democracy in Burma.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice raised the issue of Burma's human rights record at the APEC summit of Asia-Pacific countries in South Korea earlier this month.

She told fellow APEC foreign ministers it is the responsibility of all free nations to condemn repression by "tyrannical" governments like Burma's.

Ms. Rice faulted Burma's neighbors for not being assertive enough, and said engagement with the Rangoon government should include being serious about what she termed the "appalling" human rights situation there.