Page last updated at 01:17 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

UK's Brown pledges support to Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi

Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi in Seoul, South Korea
Ms Suu Kyi's detention means she cannot take part in elections next year

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has written a personal letter to Burma's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In the letter, Mr Brown praises Ms Suu Kyi's selflessness and courage, saying that his government stands "immovably" alongside her and the Burmese people.

He urges the Burmese leadership to hold free and inclusive elections in 2010, what he calls "an historic year".

He warns anything less will prolong the country's diplomatic exclusion.

"If the scheduled elections proceed under a rigged constitution, with opposition leaders excluded and with no international oversight, the military rulers will be condemning Burma to more years of diplomatic isolation and economic stagnation," Mr Brown writes.

He added that Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest, could count on the support of the UK.

"I continue to call upon the regime to engage with you and allow you further contact with diplomats in Rangoon, and to start a genuine dialogue that can give the Burmese people back their future and their hope," he writes in the letter.

The text has been passed to the Burmese leadership via the British embassy in Rangoon which officials say is the formal channel for communicating with Ms Suu Kyi.

Although Aung San Suu Kyi has lodged several appeals over the years, the chances of her being released ahead of the elections seem remote.

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