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Thai Foreign Minister Expects 'Positive Steps' in Release of Aung San Suu Kyi

The spokesman for Thailand's foreign minister says he expects "positive steps" in the very near future on calls for the release of Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai traveled to Rangoon Thursday, where he had a 90-minute meeting with Burmese Prime Minister Khin Nyunt and paid a courtesy call on the military government's senior general, Than Shwe.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sihasak Phuangketkeow said that following the talks, Thailand was optimistic progress would be achieved in all areas contained in a road map to political reform in Burma, which is officially known as Myanmar. The Burmese prime minister laid out the road map in a recent speech, and the Thai spokesman referred to that speech.

"We discussed everything that was related to the road map proposal, the road map announced by the Myanmar government, and on the basis of the discussions we believe that there will be positive developments and progress on every issue," he said.

The road map, among other things, envisions the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in government custody since May 30, when her convoy was attacked by government supporters.

Mr. Sihasak refused to provide details of the talks between the Burmese and Thai leaders, but he did emphasize that "every issue" related to the road map was raised.

He said he expected action by the time of the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which is scheduled to start on the Indonesian island of Bali on October 7.

"We certainly are hopeful that there will be progress, continued progress, and we hope that by the time of the ASEAN meeting we can see tangible progress," added Mr. Sihasak.

Thailand, Indonesia and other member countries of ASEAN have been pressing insistently for Aung San Suu Kyi to be freed.

Foreign Minister Surakiart's visit came one day after a special Indonesian envoy visited Rangoon with the same aim of seeking Aung San Suu Kyi's release.

Before leaving for Rangoon Thursday morning, the Thai spokesman, Mr. Sihasak, said Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention could overshadow important regional economic and security issues to be discussed at the summit.

"We hope that by that time we'll have the situation whereby, or in which, all the ASEAN countries can focus, really focus, on the very important issues we have to deal with," he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi underwent unspecified surgery last week. Her doctor told reporters Thursday he had given her a clean bill of health, and expected her to be released from the hospital within a day or two.

He said he did not know if the government would release her from detention at the same time.