Accessibility links

Breaking News

Burma May Hold Further Talks with Opposition - 2002-05-09

Burma's military government says it is preparing for a new round of talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, freed from house arrest earlier this week. The announcement is raising expectations of political reform.

Just days after releasing National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's military government announced Thursday it will soon hold further talks with pro-democracy opposition.

Vice Chief of Military Intelligence Major General Kyaw Win said both sides had confidence in each other, and agreement had been reached to press forward with talks. He did not disclose the timing of the talks nor the location. Media access to the talks will be restricted.

The NLD said, while it would be flexible in the talks, it stands by its key demands, including recognition of its landslide victory in the 1990 general election and the release of all political prisoners. According to human rights groups, there are some 1,500 political prisoners in Burma's jails.

Diplomats in Rangoon are skeptical, saying the announcement of the talks by the military was a pre-emptive move to ease domestic and international pressure for rapid reforms following the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, after 19 months of house arrest.

Editor of the Irrawady newspaper, Aung Zaw, told VOA, attention will focus on what issues Aung San Suu Kyi and the military discuss. Aung Zaw says one of the points Aung San Suu Kyi is insisting on is the involvement in any talks of Burma's major ethnic groups, such as the Shan and Mon.

Most of the groups have reached cease-fire deals with the military. But the military government has been reluctant to extend political freedoms to the minorities for fear of dividing the country and encouraging rebellion.