Friday, October 5

We Never Said We Were Fast

The State Department's mission statement reads: Create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community.

Well here's where the rubber meets the road. After thousands of monks and other protesters were disbursed last week, over a thousand are being held by the military junta in Rangoon/Yangon. Communications to the outside world have been limited (Background story)

US Charge d'Affaires Shari Villarosa (bio) is in Burma to hold talks with ruling generals today as the junta made a heavily qualified offer to meet elected democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi after its crackdown on protests. Aung San Suu Kyi, whose NDL party won 1990 elections by a landslide but was never allowed to rule, has spent 18 years confined to her lakeside home in the main city Rangoon.

The Australian Herald Sun reports

The envoy was invited by the Government to its remote capital Naypyidaw but has not been told who she would be meeting with, US officials said.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said she would pass on a “very clear message” to the generals to start “meaningful” dialogue with opposition groups.

The unexpected, rare invitation was announced hours after state television said junta leader Senior General Than Shwe had offered to meet personally with Aung San Suu Kyi.

He told UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari earlier this week that he would meet with the detained Nobel Peace Prize winner – but only if she drops her stance of “confrontation” and ends support for sanctions on the country.

Observers said the conditions attached to the offer meant there was only a remote possibility that talks would actually take place.

“It's not enough to play diplomatic games,” said Dave Mathieson, a Burma consultant for Human Rights Watch.

“They have to do something substantial to prove that they're serious about it. The first step would be to let her out of house arrest straight away.”

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party today said she would consider “in a positive light” an offer to meet with the regime leader and it was up to her whether to accept.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win also said about 200 party members had been arrested in the ongoing crackdown following the mass protests.

“I think Daw (Ms) Aung San Suu Kyi will consider these things in a positive light,” said Nyan Win.

“It's up to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to decide.”

He reiterated the long-standing demand for the junta to free her from house arrest.

No comments: