Aung San Suu Kyi Meets Burmese Official in Rangoon

Posted July 25th, 2011 at 3:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi met on Monday with a high-level government minister for the first time since her release last year from house arrest.

The government official, Labor and Welfare Minister Aung Kyi, later described their talks in Rangoon as a “first step” toward further cooperation, adding that the talks included discussions on the rule of law and “overcoming disunity.” He also said the two sides agreed to meet again.

Aung San Suu Kyi spoke briefly to reporters after the meeting, saying she was expecting the talks to lead to “results that can benefit the country.” She did not elaborate.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the meeting, noting that the parties called the talks positive and expressed an intention to cooperate further on matters beneficial to the Burmese people. In his statement, Mr. Ban also called on Burma's government to consider the early release of political prisoners.

Western governments and human rights groups have been urging Burma's new, nominally civilian government, to free more than 2,000 Burmese political prisoners. They also have called on the government to open a dialogue with opposition and minority groups.

Monday's meeting came just days after U.S. Secretary of State of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in India, referred to human rights in Burma as “deplorable.” In her address, Clinton called on New Delhi to encourage Burmese authorities to engage in dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party.

Labor Minister Aung Kyi was in charge of relations between the military government and Aung San Suu Kyi before the new government took office this year.

The NLD boycotted the elections that brought the new government to power because Aung San Suu Kyi was barred from being a candidate. As a result, it was ordered to disband.

The party won elections in 1990, but was never allowed to take power. Aung San Suu Kyi spent most of the past two decades in detention.