Fri, Oct 26, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Aung San Suu Kyi meets junta's new liaison chief


Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi -- under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years -- met for about one hour with a Myanmar government official yesterday afternoon, a diplomat said.

She was driven a few minutes from her home to a government guest house, where she held talks with newly appointed liaison minister, Aung Kyi. The information came from a diplomat who did not want to be identified.

A retired major general, Aung Kyi, was appointed to the post on Oct. 8 to hold talks with Aung San Suu Kyi. It is not clear if this is the Nobel laureate's first meeting with Aung Kyi, who on Wednesday was elevated to labor minister from deputy labor minister.

With Aung Kyi's appointment, the junta said it hoped to achieve ``smooth relations'' with Aung San Suu Kyi. Early this month the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a mouthpiece of the junta, printed a brief official announcement on its front page saying that Aung Kyi had been appointed ``minister for relations'' to coordinate contacts with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Appointing a liaison officer was suggested by UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari during his visit to Myanmar earlier this month, state media said.

Aung Kyi has a reputation among foreign diplomats, UN officials and aid groups as being relatively accessible and reasonable compared to top junta leaders, who are suspicious of outsiders.

Earlier this month the government announced that junta leader Senior General Than Shwe was willing to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi -- but only if she met certain conditions, such as renouncing support for sanctions against the regime.

Also see: Gambari upbeat after talks in China

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