Show of force on Myanmar streets

Tight security in Yangon one month after government forces crushed demonstrations.

    Myanmar's ruling military show no signs of bowing to international pressure to end their crackdown [AFP]

    The police deployment was apparently aimed at preventing new anti-government rallies a month after the country's biggest show of dissent in almost two decades.

     

    The eastern gate of Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda - the city's top religious shrine and a focus of the recent protests - was tightly-guarded with barbed wire.

     

    Police and pro-government groups also took up positions near the Sule Pagoda in the heart of the city and other key sites.

     

    'Smooth relations'

     

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    In the wake of the crackdown Myanmar's military rulers have been under growing international pressure to open a dialogue with the opposition.

     

    On Thursday, Aung San Suu Kyi, 62, met the government's appointed "minister for relations", Aung Kyi, for the first time at a government guest house in Yangon.

     

    State television broadcast footage of the meeting, but reported no details of their discussion, believed to be the first meeting between the opposition leader and the government in many months.

     

    Aung Kyi, a retired general, was appointed by Myanmar's military rulers earlier this month to hold talks with the opposition in the hope of achieving what the government called "smooth relations".

     

    But Myanmar pro-democracy activists living in exile expressed scepticism that anything concrete would come out of the talks.

     

    "The diplomatic community may see it as a positive step, but for me I think it is just window dressing," Zaw Min, a Thailand-based member of the Democratic Party for a New Society, told Al Jazeera.

     

    Japan visit

     

    Aung San Suu Kyi met liaison minister
    Aung Kyi, right, on Thursday [AFP]

    The talks came as Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations secretary-general's envoy to Myanmar, wrapped up an Asian tour aimed at boosting regional pressure on Myanmar's military to end its crackdown.

     

    On Friday, on the final stage of his tour, Gambari arrived in Japan for talks with senior leaders and legislators.

     

    He is scheduled to meet Yasuo Fukuda, the Japanese prime minister, and Masahiko Komura, the foreign minister, a UN spokeswoman said.

    Komura was expected to assure Gambari of Japan's full support amid an international push for democratic and human rights reforms in Myanmar, an unidentified ministry official said.

     

    Following the bloody crackdown on demonstrations last month, Japan slashed close to $5m in grants to Myanmar's ruling generals but did not completely stop sending aid.

     

    Gambari visited Myanmar earlier this month to convey international outrage over the crackdown and is due to make a return visit in early November.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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