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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Burma party rejects junta's terms
Aung San Suu Kyi, file picture
Ms Suu Kyi remains under house arrest in Rangoon
Burma's main opposition party has said no preconditions should be set by the ruling military junta for talks with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The generals agreed to meet Ms Suu Kyi, their arch political enemy, but only if she dropped her backing for sanctions.

In its first statement since the offer, Ms Suu Kyi's party insisted it was not ruling out talks.

The junta, whose bloody crackdown on protests caused outrage, has held Ms Suu Kyi under detention for years.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which won an election in 1990 but has never been allowed to govern, said the "success of a dialogue is based on sincerity and the spirit of give and take".

The statement added: "The will for achieving success is also crucial, and there should not be any preconditions."

Ms Suu Kyi, 62, has been under house arrest in the main city of Rangoon for 12 of the past 18 years.

Correspondents say her party has not had direct contact with her since 2004, and that the NLD's statement cannot be considered as her personal response to the junta's offer.

'Bizarre' conditions

Thousands of people took to Burma's streets during September in peaceful protests, led by Buddhist monks.

The junta suppressed the crowds with gunfire, killing at least 10 and subsequently detaining thousands for interrogation.

After a global outcry, the military rulers appeared to offer an olive branch to the opposition by saying Senior General Than Shwe would meet Ms Suu Kyi.

Senior General Than Shwe, file pic
General Than is said to be willing to meet Ms Suu Kyi

They later appointed an official to act as a liaison between the regime and the opposition leader.

But the generals said any meeting would depend on Ms Suu Kyi abandoning her "exerted efforts for confrontation, utter devastation, and imposing all kinds of sanctions".

The BBC's South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, says the junta's conditions are bizarre and almost certainly inserted merely to save face.

He says many Burmese are sceptical of the military's sincerity, and believe the offer of talks is just a delaying tactic until the international pressure on Burma fades away.

The international community remains divided on how to deal with Burma's repressive regime.

Countries including the US, UK and France are campaigning for sanctions against the regime, but Burma's neighbours oppose such action.

On Tuesday, China's foreign ministry reiterated its position, saying "sanctions or pressure will not help to solve the issue".


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