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Al-Jazeera Granted Exclusive Access in Burma

The Arab television network al-Jazeera has aired exclusive news footage from Burma, in a rare foreign broadcast inside the reclusive nation.

Al-Jazeera's English broadcast aired footage from Naypidaw inside Burma Tuesday. Independent news reporters are rarely allowed into the country, which has been ruled by a military government since the 1960s.

During its broadcast, al-Jazeera was granted an interview with the country's minister of information, Brigadier-General Kyaw Hsan.

The broadcaster says the interview included the lack of aid to the Burmese people and the continued detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

On its website, al-Jazeera says it believes it was granted access to film in both Naypidaw and the capital, Rangoon, because Burma's military rulers see al-Jazeera as anti-American.

It says its journalists, however, had difficulty getting the views from all segments of Burmese society and were prevented from filming numerous times.

The Arab broadcaster said the difficulties it faced in Burma sharply illustrated the polarization and isolation inside the country.

Human rights groups and countries, including the United States, have repeatedly criticized Burma's military government for stifling freedom of expression and committing human rights abuses.

The military refused to hand over power after multiparty legislative elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy - winning a landslide victory.