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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 10:45 GMT
Burma's military 'supports democracy'
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel prize in 1991
Burma's military rulers have said they are committed to creating a "functioning democracy," but have ignored an international plea to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

It is 10 years since Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel peace prize, and on Saturday, fellow laureates who were gathered in Oslo, called on the military junta to release her from house arrest.

We are all in the process of joining hands, walking on the same path toward our common objective

Statement from military
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide election in 1990, but the junta failed to hand over power.

Over the last year, she has been holding secret United Nations-brokered talks with junta leaders which have raised hopes of a breakthrough.

The negotiations have led to the release of nearly 200 political prisoners, but an estimated 1,500 remain in detention.

'Winning side'

On Monday, the generals said they were working with Aung San Suu Kyi to find a political settlement.

Burmese man in Japan at a sit-in and hunger strike to protest at the Burmese military
Activists around the world have been calling for Aung San Suu Kyi's release
"Today, we are all in the process of joining hands, walking on the same path toward our common objective," said a statement, which was dated Sunday.

The statement directly replied to comments in Oslo by South African retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said Aung San Suu Kyi was on the winning side of the conflict.

"The government of Myanmar [Burma] warmly appreciates the opinions, concerns and interest of its partners in the international community and believes that all of us are on the winning side already since we all have the common objective of creating Myanmar to become a functioning democracy," the statement said.

"But regretfully in the past due to misunderstanding between the NLD party and the government of Myanmar, cooperation did not exist."

Aung San Suu Kyi has not appeared in public since September 2000, when she was put under de facto house arrest for attempting to travel outside the capital Rangoon for a political meeting.

Nobel laureates, in Oslo on Saturday to celebrate 100 years of the peace prize, paid tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi and called for her release.

Messages of support came from around the world, including US President George Bush.

"In the face of great hardship she has never wavered in her commitment to peaceful change," Mr Bush said.

See also:

08 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Peace greats urge Suu Kyi release
07 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Free Aung San Suu Kyi'
05 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's slow road to reform
06 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma opposition denies 'power share'
27 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burmese opposition backs talks
19 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Burma talks stalled
19 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Opposition prisoners freed in Burma
29 Mar 99 | Asia-Pacific
Suu Kyi 'refuses funeral visa'
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