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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday praised Burma’s talks with opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi and voiced hope that the government would take further steps including freeing prisoners.
Ban “welcomes” the talks between Suu Kyi and Labour Minister Aung Kyi and “encourages such contacts and dialogue,” a UN statement said.
“In line with the international community’s expectations and Myanmar’s [Burma] national interest, the secretary-general hopes such efforts will continue with a view to building mutual understanding through genuine dialogue,” it said.
“He also calls upon the government of Myanmar to consider early action on the release of political prisoners in that country,” it said. Human rights groups say some 2,000 political prisoners remain in jail.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was freed in November after spending most of the previous two decades under house arrest. The talks Monday with Aung Kyi were the first since Burma formed a new government following elections.
Most Western nations and the opposition were sharply critical of the election, viewing the polls as a charade by military leaders to stay in power while officially handing power to civilians.
Plans for the meeting with Suu Kyi emerged on Saturday, the same day that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Burma’s rulers to have “meaningful and inclusive dialogue” with the opposition.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland reiterated Clinton’s call for Burma to meet with Suu Kyi in a way “where she can have influence on the future of her country.”
“I can’t speak to this specific meeting, but those are the steps that we want to see. And we want to make sure, also, that the Burmese government is taking great care with her security,” Nuland said.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won 1990 elections but was never allowed to take power. She avoided making public speeches during a recent four-day tour outside of the commercial capital Rangon during which plain-clothes police trailed her but did not hinder her movements.