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Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 11:56 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Suu Kyi rejects UK visit offer

Aung San Suu Kyi: Fears leaving Burma

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is reported to have rejected an offer by the military government of Burma allowing her to return to the country after visiting her dying husband in the UK.

Ms Suu Kyi is believed to be unwilling to leave Burma, because of fears that she would not be allowed to come back.

[ image: Ms Suu Kyi, with husband Michael Aris]
Ms Suu Kyi, with husband Michael Aris
The authorities have actively encouraged her to visit her husband, but this was the first time that have expressly stated they would not oppose her return.

Her British husband, Michael Aris, was diagnosed as terminally ill with prostate cancer several months ago and is anxious to see his wife before he dies.

A Burmese Government spokesman said her visit would be acceptable as long as it was not used for political purposes.

"The government of Myanmar [Burma] sees no difficulty for Ms Suu Kyi in returning back to Myanmar after her visit to see her husband, believing that the trip be purely humanitarian and one of a family affair in nature," he said.

'Pawn of Western imperialism'

But military officers who delivered the offer to Ms Suu Kyi were reportedly cut short and not allowed to finish the message.

"Regretfully, she refused the government's offer and the discussion abruptly ended with the officers [told] to leave her residence," the spokesman said.

[ image:  ]
Aung San Suu Kyi - the daughter of the man who led Burma to independence - is the leader of the country's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy.

Although the NLD overwhelmingly won the 1990 general elections, the country's military leaders ignored the results.

Ms Suu Kyi remains the military government's major political opponent, despite spending almost six years under house arrest. She was released in 1995.

The military authorities have often accused her of being a pawn of Western imperialism because of her marriage to a British citizen.

Mr Aris has made repeated applications to visit Burma - backed by appeals from the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the United Nations.

Burma is "reviewing" his visa request, but argues that it would be more sensible for Ms Suu Kyi to visit him.

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