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Red Cross Officials Meet Burma's Detained Aung San Suu Kyi - 2003-07-29

Red Cross officials have met with Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the first such visit since her detention two months ago. The visit comes as Burma faces economic sanctions and pressure to release Aung San Suu Kyi immediately.

A delegation of International Red Cross officials held a 45-minute private meeting on Monday with Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi - the first such meeting in her two months of detention.

Since she was detained after a violent clash between a pro-government mob and opposition supporters, United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail has been the only outsider to see the opposition leader.

Red Cross spokesman in Rangoon Jean-Pascal Moret said Aung San Suu Kyi asked about other members of her party, the National League for Democracy, or NDL, who were also detained after the violence on May 30. "The delegation was able to meet with her without witnesses in private talks so she was able to speak freely to the delegates. She was found in pretty good health and good spirits," Mr. Moret said.

The Red Cross visit comes as Burma's military government is attempting to fend off intense international pressure for Aung San Suu Kyi's release. On Tuesday, the United States imposed tough new economic sanctions on Burma, including a ban on Burmese imports. The European Union and Japan are stepping up economic action, and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, have taken the unprecedented step of criticizing the government.

Burma's Foreign Minister Win Aung denounced the sanctions on Tuesday, saying they would hurt the Burmese people. He said Aung San Suu Kyi will be released, but only when the domestic situation has settled down.

The Burmese Foreign minister made his statements from Indonesia, now the chair of ASEAN, of which Burma is member. Malaysia's Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, is warning that Burma's membership in ASEAN might be cancelled unless the opposition leader is freed.

ASEAN countries have proposed that an Indonesian-led delegation visit Burma and restart dialogue between the ruling junta and the NLD underway prior to the May 30 clash. But the group set no time frame for the visit.