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Burmese Government to Meet with Democracy Leader Aung San Suu Kyi - 2003-05-21

Thailand's top diplomat says Burma's military government will hold talks with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi within weeks. The Thai government is offering to help bring about reforms in Burma.

Two days after a trip to Burma, Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai says he is very encouraged by his talk with Khin Nyunt, Burma's number three leader.

Mr. Surakiart met with Khin Nyut in the border town of Tachilek on Monday to discuss efforts by the two countries to fight drug smugglers, and the construction of a new bridge across the border.

The Thai foreign minister says he discussed the possibility that Burma's State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC, will resume talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"I have been informed that within the next few weeks there will be another political dialogue between the leadership of the SPDC and Aung San Suu Kyi," he said.

The government released Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest a year ago. Since then, however, efforts to build a political dialogue have stalled. Aung San Suu Kyi says the government does not want democracy or political change.

Mr. Surakiart says Thailand's government wants to help the process of political reconciliation in Burma.

"It's important not just to have strong relations, but to see peace within Myanmar through national reconciliation," he noted. " The prime minister has offered to help facilitate the peace talks to which the Myanmar leadership has responded positively."

He says, however, that international economic sanctions will not persuade the Rangoon government to improve its human rights practices or revive the stalled talks.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the 1990 election by a landslide, but the government never allowed it to take power. The military has ruled Burma for more than four decades.

Also Wednesday morning, four bombs exploded Wednesday in the Tachilek area the Thai foreign minister visited on Monday. Burmese officials say the bombs killed four people. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts.