Sun, Apr 19, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Arroyo calls for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release: department

AFP , MANILA

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo called on Myanmar to release detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a recent meeting with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein, the foreign department said on Friday.

Arroyo asked Myanmar’s ruling junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi once the extension of her house arrest expires next month, urging it to reach out to political opponents for the sake of national unity.

The foreign department said Arroyo made her appeal when she met with the Myanmar leader on the sidelines of the planned ASEAN summit in Pattaya, Thailand, on April 10 at the request of Thein Sein.

Releasing Aung San Suu Kyi would result in “tremendous goodwill for Myanmar from the international community,” the department quoted Arroyo as saying.

“We only have your country and your people’s welfare at heart. This is the single, most concrete piece of advice and experience I can share with you,” Arroyo said.

In response, Thein Sein expressed “appreciation for the president’s valuable suggestions and said that his government would take them into account,” the department said.

He also reiterated his government’s firm commitment to take steps towards democratization and reconciliation through the adoption of a new constitution and the holding of general elections next year.

He added that Myanmar “considers its cooperation with the United Nations as the cornerstone of its foreign policy.”

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in 1990 elections, but the junta never allowed it to take office. She has been under house arrest for most of the past 19 years.

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