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Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has urged Burma to release detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi before next year's election, saying Tokyo is willing to provide more aid if democratic reforms in Burma are advanced.

In talks with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein in Tokyo Saturday, Mr. Hatoyama said it is extremely important that Burma release Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners before the general election to be held in 2010.

The Japanese leader said that given recent progress being made, including dialogue between the military government and the Nobel Peace laureate, Japan would expand, in phases, humanitarian and human resources assistance to Burma.

Last week, a senior U.S. official was in Burma for talks with the country's ruling generals, putting in motion U.S. President Barack Obama's new policy of "pragmatic engagement" with the isolated Southeast Asian nation.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.