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Burmese Democracy Leader Meets Western Diplomats

By Daniel Schearf
09 October 2009

Burma's detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been allowed a rare meeting with Western diplomats to discuss sanctions against Burma.

Burmese authorities allowed Aung San Suu Kyi Friday to meet with diplomats from Australia, Britain and the United States.

The leader of Burma's democracy movement was allowed to leave her house detention for the rare meeting, which took place in a government guest house and lasted about an hour.

Nyan Win is Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyer and a spokesman for her National League for Democracy party. He says she and the diplomats discussed in detail the sanctions against Burma's military government.

"She need[s] to know the data and facts of the sanctions," he said. "And, she asked the diplomats about this. And, the diplomats reply to the lady that they will try their best to meet her wants about the sanctions."

Nyan Win says the diplomats also met with NLD leaders at their headquarters in Rangoon to inform them about the discussions.

The U.S. and European Union imposed sanctions against Burma after its military rulers ignored the NLD's 1990 election victory.

Aung San Suu Kyi in the past supported the sanctions as a means to pressure the military government.

But, in September, she wrote a letter to Burma's military leader, General Than Shwe, saying she was prepared to work with him to get the sanctions lifted.

And, in the last week, Aung San Suu Kyi met twice with a military government liaison.

The United States recently changed its Burma policy to engage directly with Burmese leaders.

But Washington says the sanctions should remain in place until Burma takes steps toward democracy and the release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

She has spent most of the last two decades under house arrest. And, despite international pressure, Burma has more than two-thousand other political prisoners behind bars.

Last week, a court rejected Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal against an 18-month extension of her house arrest.

Nyan Win says they plan to submit an appeal on her detention to Burma's Supreme Court next week.

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