US Senator Expected in Rangoon to Meet Aung San Suu Kyi

Posted June 2nd, 2011 at 5:00 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Senator John McCain was due in Rangoon Thursday for a meeting with Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

An opposition spokesman told VOA's Burmese service the senator was also slated to see representatives of five small ethnic parties. His visit to Rangoon follows meetings Wednesday in the administrative capital, Naypyidaw, with Vice President Aung Myint Oo, Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and other officials.

Burma's official New Light of Myanmar newpaper said McCain and the foreign minister discussed bilateral relations and mutual interests, but did not elaborate. However the senator said before arriving in Burma that he would urge authorities not to interfere with a forthcoming national tour announced this week by Aung San Suu Kyi.

He also said he would urge leaders of the new Burmese government to release an estimated 2,200 political prisoners.

In advance of his trip, Senator McCain visited the biggest refugee camp for Burmese in Thailand, at Mae Sot. Tens of thousands of refugees there are waiting either to return home or to be resettled elsewhere.

McCain is a former U.S. Navy pilot who spent six years in a prisoner of war camp during the Vietnam War. He later became a leading advocate of reconciliation between the former enemies.