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Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Burma's Suu Kyi meets senior members of her NLD party

Aung San Suu Kyi at Inya Lake Hotel after meeting US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell on 4 November 2009
Aung San Suu Kyi has lodged an appeal to be released

Detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been allowed to meet three senior officials of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

All three, who are struggling with poor health, gave Ms Suu Kyi permission to carry out reforms in the party ahead of elections promised for next year.

Ms Suu Kyi had requested the meeting last month in a letter to Burma's military leader Than Shwe.

She has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest.

Her latest term of detention was extended earlier this year for 18 months, meaning she will be unable to compete in the elections herself.

There is so far no date for the polls, and the NLD has not agreed to participate.

New dynamic?

At a state guest house in Rangoon, Ms Suu Kyi met NLD chairman Aung Shwe, 92, party secretary U Lwin, 85, and Lun Tin, 82.

It is the first such meeting since January 2008, the BBC's South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says.

"She asked the leaders for permission to reorganise the central executive committee of the party, which we agreed to," U Lwin reportedly said after the meeting.

This could imply that the three men are about to step aside in favour of a younger generation ahead of the elections, says our correspondent.

She adds that a recent series of moves by Ms Suu Kyi and Burma's generals suggest a new dynamic may be developing.

Last week, the pro-democracy leader held talks with a member of the military government - for the third time in two months.

Cause for optimism?

In her letter to Than Shwe asking to see the three men, Ms Suu Kyi also suggested a face-to-face meeting with the Burmese military leader, and offered her co-operation on matters of national interest.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that Ms Suu Kyi was "expecting the rest of her requests to be fulfilled. She's optimistic about her letter. She believes the government will allow her requests".

However, there is no indication thus far that any such meeting is planned, our correspondent says.

In November, Ms Suu Kyi held talks with visiting US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell - the most senior US official to visit Burma in 14 years.

Analysts say the visit was evidence of a new approach from Washington - combining engagement with sanctions - amid a growing belief in diplomatic circles that isolating the military leadership has not achieved results.

Burma's military junta says multi-party elections will take place in early 2010 - the first polls in almost two decades.

Ms Suu Kyi's NLD won the last elections, in 1990, but was never allowed to take power.



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