Yangon: Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with a senior Myanmar government official on Monday for the first time since her release from house arrest. The official later described the talks as a "first step" toward further cooperation in the military-dominated country.
Suu Kyi`s met for 80 minutes with Labour and Social Welfare Minister Aung Kyi at a government guest house. Aung Kyi said without elaborating that the two discussed the rule of law and ways to eliminate misunderstandings in the interests of the good of the country and the people.
Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, the country`s main opposition leader, has repeatedly asked for a dialogue with the government to solve the country`s political deadlock, which focuses on the military`s failure to establish democracy.
However, previous such initiatives between the two sides have never gotten very far. Suu Kyi on Monday commented only that the meeting was in the in the interests of the people and the country.
Suu Kyi`s National League for Democracy won a 1990 general election, but was barred from taking power by the Army, which instead cracked down on political dissenters. Her party boycotted a fresh election held last November, charging it was undemocratic and unfair, a position echoed by the US government and other critics.
An elected civilian regime took office in March, but it is dominated by retired military figures, and operates under a Constitution that ensures the military retains a dominant role.
Last week, at a forum of Southeast Asian nations in Indonesia, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Myanmar to open a dialogue with the opposition and release political prisoners to win the trust of the international community.
Aung Kyi is a retired major-general who was appointed "relations minister" in October 2007 to facilitate contacts between the then-ruling military junta and Suu Kyi, apparently on the basis that he had a reputation as a moderate among hard-line military leaders He took his present post under the new elected but military-dominated government that came to power earlier this year.
The two met nine times since 2007 while Suu Kyi was under house arrest but details of the meetings were never released and no tangible outcome of the meetings were seen.
Asked on Monday about the earlier meetings, Aung Kyi denied there had been no progress, but added that this latest meeting would have better results.