Daily News- August 05- 2002- Monday
Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi asks to meet MahathirPolitical dialogue with Myanmar junta has not yet begun: NLDUN special envoy says Myanmar meetings "very productive"Japanese FM meets Myanmar opposition leaderThai minister to head to Myanmar to patch up tiesSofter line on Burma likely from Thai army reshuffle
Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi asks to meet Mahathir
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 (AFP) - Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has requested a meeting with Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad during his visit to Yangon in mid-August, a senior official said Monday.
The official said the possibility of a meeting was high but Malaysia would seek the approval of Myanmar's junta's first.
Mahathir, in power for 21 years and Asia's longest-serving leader, has not previously met Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD).
"It will be good if the meeting takes place as it will boost Mahathir's image and also that of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Malaysia is a close ally of Myanmar's in ASEAN, a 10-nation grouping which marks the 35th anniversary of its founding on August 8.
Mahathir is due to make a two-day official visit to Myanmar from August 18, accompanied by officials and businessmen.Malaysia is the sixth largest investor in Myanmar, with more than 594 million dollars committed to 26 projects over the past 10 years.
To The TopPolitical dialogue with Myanmar junta has not yet begun: NLD
YANGON, Aug 4 (AFP) - The National League for Democracy (NLD) on Sunday denied reports that political dialogue had already begun with Myanmar's ruling military regime.
"Of course we have had talks. But this has been a confidence-building period, we have spoken about the release of prisoners and so on, and it has not been not very easy," spokesman U Lwin told AFP."Maybe the other side is counting that as a political dialogue, I really don't know."
Media reports had earlier Sunday said that Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), had signalled during talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi that de facto political dialogue had begun with the NLD.
Kawaguchi has said she planned to urge both sides to move forward with the democratisation process during her two-day visit to Yangon.It is the first visit by a Japanese Foreign Minister to Myanmar since 1983.
Kawaguchi met with UN special envoy Razali Ismail on Sunday, and is scheduled to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi at her residence on Monday afternoon.
To The TopUN special envoy says Myanmar meetings "very productive"
YANGON, Aug 4 (AFP) - Visiting UN special envoy Razali Ismail, working to speed up Myanmar's stalled reconciliation talks, Sunday described meetings with both sides of the political divide as "very productive".
The Malaysian diplomat met Saturday with both Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
"I found both my meetings with Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt and Aung San Suu Kyi very productive, and I am very encouraged by the progress towards national reconciliation," he told reporters.
He was speaking after a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, who is in the capital on a two-day visit, the first by a Japanese foreign minister since 1983.Japan is the biggest creditor nation and aid donor to Myanmar.
Before her arrival here Saturday, Kawaguchi said she too would urge both the junta and opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) to prevent the democratisation process from backsliding.
Kawaguchi on Sunday met for an hour with Khin Nyunt, who is also Myanmar's chief of military intelligence, and was meeting with her Myanmar counterpart Win Aung on Sunday evening before attending a dinner hosted by him in her honour.On Monday, Kawaguchi will make a courtesy call on Myanmar's military chief and head-of-state Senior General Than Shwe, and then meet with Aung San Suu Kyi at her lakeside residence.
The landmark reconciliation talks, which Razali helped broker in October 2000, have so far led to the May 6 release of the NLD leader, but are yet to progress beyond the confidence-building stage.The charismatic leader has been permitted to make political visits outside the capital -- both of which drew crowds in their thousands -- and a number of NLD offices have been reopened across the country.But no other progress is believed to have been made towards bringing democratic reform to the military-run state.
NLD spokesman U Lwin told AFP Sunday that it was too early to comment on Razali's five-day visit."We have to talk about the period since his last visit, developments in the situation, and the future. He has to talk further with the other side. These are things we cannot make a public statement about," he said.U Lwin also refuted reports that de facto political dialogue had already begun between the two sides.
Razali also met separately on Sunday with Chinese Ambassador Li Jing Jun over lunch and played a round of golf with US charge d'affaires Priscilla Clapp.
On Saturday he met with the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), an informal coalition of pro-democracy ethnic minority parties who pressed him for help in officially reinstating their parties.Ethnic minorities make up one-third of the country's population of 50 million, and have made it clear that they too wish to be included in the talks.
UNA spokesman Khun Tun Oo told reporters after the meeting that he believed Razali was "still on the right track" as far as his efforts for reconciliation were concerned.He also quoted Razali describing the dialogue process between the two sides as remaining at "a low level", without elaborating.
Razali is to hold a second meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday evening, according to his government program, which for the first time also lists his non-military appointments.
As a goodwill gesture leading up to Razali's eighth mission here, the junta released 43 political prisoners, while nearly 300 have been released since the secret talks began.Razali is due to wrap up his visit here on Tuesday, while the Japanese foreign minister departs Monday.
UN special envoy meets with Chinese ambassador, Japanese FM
YANGON, Aug 4 (AFP) - United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail met with the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar over lunch Sunday and was scheduled to meet with the Japanese foreign minister in the afternoon, according to diplomatic sources.
The Malaysian diplomat, who Saturday met with both sides of Myanmar's political divide in efforts to speed up national reconciliation talks, met with ambassador Li Jing Jun for over an hour.He was then scheduled for an impromptu meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi in the afternoon, sources from the Japanese embassy said.
Before her arrival here Saturday night for a two-day visit, Kawaguchi said she too would urge both the junta and opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) to not let the democratisation process backslide.Her visit is the first by a Japanese foreign minister since 1983.
The reconciliation talks, which Razali helped broker in October 2000, have so far led to the May 6 release of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but are yet to progress substantively beyond the confidence-building stage.
NLD spokesman U Lwin told AFP Sunday that it was too early to comment on Razali's five-day visit."We have to talk about the period since his last visit, developments in the situation, and the future. He has to talk further with the other side. These are things we cannot make a public statement about," he said.
On Saturday, Razali met separately with junta number three and intelligence chief Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, as well as Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.He also held a meeting with the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), an informal coalition of pro-democracy ethnic minority parties who were planning to press him for help in officially reinstating their parties.
Ethnic minorities make up one third of the country's population of 50 million, and have made it increasingly clear that they too wish to be included in the talks.
UNA spokesman Khun Tun Oo told reporters after the meeting that he believed Razali was "still on the right track" as far as his efforts for reconciliation were concerned.He also quoted Razali describing the dialogue process between the two sides as remaining at "a low level", without elaborating further.
To The TopJapanese FM meets Myanmar opposition leader
YANGON, Aug. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi met with Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) here Monday who was released from 19-month house arrest by the government on May 6.
They exchanged views on furthering meaningful talks between the Myanmar government and the National League for Democracy (NLD) for the realization of the country's national reconciliation.
Kawaguchi is the first Japanese minister who has met with ASSK,NLD General Secretary, since the Myanmar military took over power in late 1988. Kawaguchi, who arrived here last Saturday on a three-day official trip to Myanmar, is also the first Japanese foreign minister to visit the country since 1983.
On Sunday, Kawaguchi met with First Secretary of the ruling Myanmar State Peace and Development Council Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt and her Myanmar counterpart U Win Aung as well as United Nations Special Envoy Razali Ismail, who has been here since last Friday on a five-day mission to Myanmar sent by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Shortly after ASSK's release, the Japanese government has expressed welcome over the move taken by the Myanmar military, saying that it will support Myanmar's efforts towards nation-building in a more active manner.
As the first aid after restriction on ASSK was lifted, the Japanese government has decided to provide a financial assistance of 628 million yens (about 5 million US dollars) to Myanmar for the rehabilitation of a hydropower plant in Baluchaung, Loikaw of the country's eastern Kayah state. Japan is Myanmar's largest donor country. It resumed humanitarian aid in 1995 after suspension in late 1988 when the Myanmar military came to power.
To The TopThai minister to head to Myanmar to patch up ties
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand said on Monday that Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai will meet the three most senior Myanmar military rulers during a visit to Yangon this week to try to improve bilateral relations.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters after a meeting with Surakiart that the foreign minister would discuss ways to restore good relations during his visit on Monday and Tuesday.
"Our core principle, which has never changed, is we are inseparable neighbours who need to share mutual borders forever," Thaksin said. "A healthy bilateral relationship is our...foremost priority."
Surakiart was due to leave for Yangon late on Monday.His visit to Yangon follows a meeting with his Myanmar counterpart Win Aung on the sidelines of a security dialogue of foreign ministers from 22 Asia-Pacific nations in Brunei last week.Relations between Bangkok and Yangon deteriorated in May after Thailand massed thousands of troops at their common border.
The troops were ostensibly there for a training exercise, but Thai military sources said they were preparing for a strike against a rebel militia from the ethnic Wa minority, a well-armed group allied to Yangon.Both sides accuse each other of supporting rival ethnic guerrilla armies involved in the drugs trade in the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet.The region is the source of much of the heroin sold in the West and is a growing production area for methamphetamines.
Thaksin said a good relationship with Myanmar would allow it to fight drug trafficking more effectively."Everything will be cleared up after the foreign minister has returned, as they will trust us after the visit," Thaksin said.
Surakiart is scheduled to meet Than Shwe, supreme leader of Myanmar's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), as well as Maung Aye, vice chairman of the SPDC, and military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt. He is also expected to meet Myanmar Foreign Minister Win Aung.
Softer line on Burma likely from Thai army reshuffle
The army under Gen Somdhat Attanand is likely to take a softer stance on Burma and efforts to wipe out drugs at the border may lose their punch, a former army chief said.But the government and the army were likely to work more closely in putting policy into effect than they did under Gen Surayud Chulanont, the outgoing army chief.
Gen Surayud was known for his tough stance on Burma, which put him at odds with a government keen on placating its prickly neighbour.Gen Somdhat will succeed Gen Surayud from Oct 1, while Gen Surayud is to replace Adm Narong Yutthawong as supreme commander.
Gen Somdhat has close ties with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who bypassed an appointments committee in naming him to the post.Gen Somdhat and Deputy Defence Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa are also sons-in-law of the former military dictator, Field Marshal Prapass Charusathiera.
The source said if Gen Somdhat was to toe the government's line, the military's stance toward Burma would get softer and efforts to tackle drugs would be ``watered down''.
Gen Somdhat served in logistical units mostly in Bangkok. He rose through the ranks in the First Army Region and in the Royal Guards before being promoted commander of the First Army Corp and later the Royal Military Academy superintendent. It was not long before he landed the post of First Army commander and he was named army chief-of-staff only last year.Gen Somdhat has not served in the Third Army Region, which handles Thai-Burmese border affairs.
Gen Watanachai Chaimuanwong, the assistant army chief and former Third Army commander, initially a candidate for the top army post, said he missed out because he was too forceful and unyielding toward Burma in the recent border standoff.He ordered military strikes after Burmese incursions and went after drug smugglers. Gen Wattanachai said some people were worried that bilateral relations would take a battering if he became army chief. However, he was not prepared to bow to Burma to improve his prospects.Now he could be made deputy defence permanent secretary or defence inspector-general.
To The Top