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Aung San Suu Kyi Release Follows Talks With Burmese Military Leaders - 2002-05-06

Officials of Burma's military government say opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from 19 months of house detention. Officials in Rangoon confirmed earlier statements by Burmese officials in Washington who said the Nobel laureate is free to carry out political activities.

Diplomats in the country have been expecting Aung San Suui Kyi's release for the past several days.

The opposition leader is reported to have met several times over the past few days with top government officials.

A government spokesman issued a news release which indirectly referred to the release when it said a "new page" in the history of the country will take place Monday. The statement noted the government has released over 600 detainees in recent months and shall continue to release people who will cause no harm to the country or threaten the existing peace. It said the government recommits itself to allow all citizens to participate freely in the life of Burma's political process.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the National League for Democracy political party. Her organization won a national election in 1990, but Burma's military junta refused to allow the party to take power. Since then, the Nobel laureate and her political party have been in a tense confrontation with government officials, which has included numerous detentions of opposition figures and restrictions of Aung San Suu Kyi's contact with the outside world.

She won the Nobel peace prize in 1991. International efforts to bring about democracy in Burma have focused on allowing her freedom to participate in the political process.

The government statement released Monday also said officials will take part in the fight against terrorism, the eradication of narcotic drugs in the country and in the fight against the spread of AIDS, which has reached alarming levels in the southeast Asian nation.

One sign of the importance the government is attaching to Monday's announcement is the unusual decision to invite several foreign news reporters in the country. The ruling junta has prevented most foreign journalists from freely covering events in the nation, which maintains tight control over domestic news.