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Myanmar sees role for Suu Kyi in political process: Thailand

HUA HIN, Oct 25 (AFP) - Myanmar's prime minister told Asian leaders Sunday that the ruling junta sees a role for democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in fostering reconciliation ahead of elections in 2010, Thailand said.

Premier Thein Sein's comments to a regional summit in Thailand came after the government allowed the detained Suu Kyi to have a rare meeting with a minister, and as the United States sought to engage the regime.

Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi, 64, was placed under a further 18 months' house arrest in August, effectively barring her from taking part in elections promised by the ruling generals in 2010.

But Thein Sein "feels optimistic that she can also contribute to the process of national reconciliation," Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva quoted his Myanmar counterpart as saying at a briefing to Asian leaders.

He did not say if Thein Sein indicated whether this meant she would be allowed to take part in the electoral process.

Thein Sein was quoted by Japanese officials as saying on Saturday that the conditions of Suu Kyi's detention could be relaxed if she behaves.

She was convicted in August over an incident in which an American man swam to her lakeside house.

Abhisit said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was pleased that the United States, which maintains strict sanctions against Myanmar, was now following its lead in trying to engage the junta.

"The one thing we all agreed on is that we welcome signs of further engagement in response to some developments in Myanmar. ASEAN has always argued that engagement is the right approach," Abhisit said.

Rights groups earlier criticised ASEAN for failing to mention Suu Kyi in their final summit declaration and for devoting just three lines to the military-ruled nation's political situation in the nine-page document.

Suu Kyi has been detained for 14 of the last 20 years since her party won a landslide victory in Myanmar's last democratic elections. The regime refused to recognise the victory. (AFP)

MySinchew 2009.10.25

 

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