Suu Kyi meets with Western diplomats

Burma's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with Western diplomats in Yangon, following a letter that she sent to the secretive military junta proposing ways to get sanctions lifted.


AFP - Detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is meeting with Western diplomats in Yangon, embassies told AFP Friday.

The military-ruled nation's foreign affairs ministry has granted permission for the US chief of mission and the heads of the UK and Australian embassies to meet with the democracy icon, US embassy spokesman Drake Weisert said.

"We look forward to hearing directly from Aung San Suu Kyi her views regarding the situation in Burma," he said, using the country's former name.

Another Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the meeting was taking place between 10am and 11am (0330-0430 GMT). The UK is said to be representing the European Union at the talks.

In a recent letter to military regime leader Than Shwe, in which Suu Kyi offered suggestions for having Western sanctions lifted, she requested a meeting with foreign diplomats in Yangon to discuss the issue.

"The authorities allowing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's request is good -- she is getting what she needs," said her lawyer Nyan Win, who confirmed she was meeting with the diplomats. Daw is a term of respect in Myanmar.

"I think they will be discussing mainly the lifting of sanctions. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wanted to get the facts and figures on Western sanctions," he added.

In the past week the Nobel Laureate has had two meetings with Aung Kyi, the official liaison between herself and the junta -- the first time they have met for talks since January 2008.

State media reported Sunday that they discussed her letter at the first meeting, but further details of the talks have not yet emerged.

Suu Kyi's correspondence with Than Shwe, which came as the US unveiled a major policy shift to re-engage the junta, marks an easing of her stance after years of advocating punitive measures against the junta.

Last week Suu Kyi's appeal against her extended house arrest was rejected, when judges upheld her conviction over an incident in which an American man swam uninvited to her house in May.

The guilty verdict for the frail 64-year-old, who has spent much of the past 20 years in detention, earned her an extra 18 months in detention and provoked international outrage.

John Yettaw, an eccentric American who triggered the debacle by swimming to her crumbling lakeside home, was sentenced to seven years' hard labour, but was freed after a visit by US Senator Jim Webb in August.

Webb was allowed to see Suu Kyi during his trip, which was her most recent meeting with a foreign official until Friday's talks with diplomats.

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