General 'willing to meet Suu Kyi'

Myanmar's military ruler says talks with opposition depend on key conditions.

    Campaigners have called for an international day of action on Myanmar on Saturday [Reuters]

    The announcement came as officials in Washington said that the highest-ranking US diplomat in Myanmar had been summoned for rare face-to-face talks with the country's military rulers.


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    Shari Villarosa, who has been a vocal critic of the crackdown, was expected to repeat the US view that the regime must meet with democratic opposition groups and halt its crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, the US State Department said.


    Laster on Friday the United Nations' envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, is due to brief the Security Council on his recent visit to the country.


    Gambari spent four days in Myanmar earlier this week, holding talks with Than Shwe and other members of the military government, as well as meeting Aung San Suu Kyi twice.


    The council is to hold an unprecedented open session on Myanmar on Friday, although it is far from clear what action they might take. 


    China and Russia - two veto-wielding council members - have already indicated their view that events in Myanmar constitute an internal affair and that they will block any harsh sanctions against the regime.


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    Al Jazeera's UN correspondent, Mark Seddon, said the decision to discuss Myanmar in open session rather than behind closed doors indicated the council's intent to show Myanmar's rulers that the eyes of the international community were on them.


    He added that this could be the beginning of sanctions against Myanmar and there was talk that Gambari would return to Myanmar in November to see what progress was being made.


    On Saturday supporters of Myanmar pro-democracy groups have planned a day of action around the world in solidarity with the protesters inside the country.


    In Myanmar itself Al Jazeera's correspondent says the military crackdown on dissent is continuing.


    The correspondent said video evidence was being used to round up supporters of the protests and that police snatch squads were being used.


    House arrest


    Gambari met Aung San Suu Kyi twice during
    his visit to Myanmar [UNIC Yangon]

    Than Shwe's conditional offer to open dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi is the first sign of compromise from the regime since it cracked down on protesting monks and demonstrators last week.


    The opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner has been under house arrest for most of the past 18 years.


    She has not been seen in public for several years, and many commentators have noted that photos of her meeting Gambari released by the UN showed her continued detention was having an impact on her health.


    Myanmar dissidents in exile however are dismissing the general's offer of talks as a ploy.


    "He has no choice. He has to offer to talk to Aung San Suu Kyi," Zaw Min, a dissident based in neighbouring Thailand, told Al Jazeera.


    He said any talks must be unconditional and warned that the general's offer could be an effort to buy time.


    In Myanmar itself Al Jazeera's special correspondent says police are continuing to round up anyone they suspect of having been involved in the recent anti-government protests.


    On Thursday the government admitted that it has arrested more than 2,000 people.


    But Al Jazeera correspondent David Hawkins, reporting from Bangkok, says that like the military's claim that only 10 people were killed in the crackdown on protesters, many believe the true number of arrests is much higher.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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