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Monday, 27 August, 2001, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Burmese opposition backs talks
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest
Burma's pro-democracy opposition has welcomed the lifting of restrictions on two of its top leaders, as a United Nations special envoy arrived to mediate peace talks.

The UN envoy, Razali Ismail, is in Rangoon on his fifth visit to the country, and will hold talks with members of the military government and the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.


Aung San Suu Kyi expressed great satisfaction in seeing that Aung Shwe and Tin Oo and the rest of the members will now be able to be active in their party affairs

NLD statement
On Monday, the National League for Democracy released a statement saying Aung San Suu Kyi would continue to "strive for the realisation of democracy".

The NLD overwhelmingly won elections in 1990 but the military junta refused to give up power.

Aung San Suu Kyi has had various restrictions placed on her activities ever since, but for nearly a year she has been holding secret talks with the military, with Mr Razali as a go-between. One of her key demands is thought to be the release of political prisoners.

Nearly 200 political prisoners have been released since the beginning of the year and NLD local offices are being allowed to reopen.

Optimism

On Sunday the military government announced it was lifting the restrictions on NLD chairman Aung Shwe and the party's vice-chairman, Tin Oo. Both men have been under virtual house arrest since last September when they defied an informal travel ban.

Tim Oo (Copyright: Burma Campaign UK)
Tim Oo says Aung San Suu Kyi is working hard
After their release Aung Shwe and Tin Oo visited Aung San Suu Kyi at her home, where she remains confined for defying the same travel ban by trying to visit the northern city of Mandalay.

Tin Oo said she was "working hard for the success of the talks" and in Monday's statement the NLD executive committee said it was "totally supportive" of its leader.

"Aung San Suu Kyi expressed great satisfaction in seeing that Aung Shwe and Tin Oo and the rest of the members will now be able to be active in their party affairs," the statement said.

Mr Razali, a Malaysian diplomat, is expected to meet Aung San Suu Kyi twice during his four-day visit. He will also meet military leader Than Shwe and the chief of military intelligence Khin Nyunt.

The talks have been deadlocked for some time, but our Burma correspondent says the release of the two leaders has raised expectations that the dialogue process is about to enter a new phase.

See also:

20 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burmese government regrets no show
19 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Burma talks stalled
19 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's Suu Kyi stays away
06 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma releases opposition MPs
31 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma targets international image
08 Aug 01 | Media reports
New Burma TV shows "Myanmar mosaic"
13 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma frees two more opposition activists
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Burma
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