Yangon: A top US official met Myanmar`s detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday after expressing concerns about the legitimacy of the military-run country`s upcoming elections.
Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, started off his two-day visit by saying Washington was deeply concerned about the political environment the ruling junta has created ahead of Myanmar`s first election in 20 years.
Before meeting with Suu Kyi at a government guesthouse, Campbell spoke with senior leaders of her now-defunct opposition party who urged Washington to convey its concerns by getting tougher with the junta.
The National League for Democracy called for "tougher action against the military government by the United States and the international community," said Win Tin, a senior party member and a longtime political prisoner.
"We also told Mr Campbell not to recognise the results of the upcoming election, which will be held without the two important elements — credibility and inclusivity — that the international community has demanded," he said.
The National League for Democracy was dissolved on Friday after effectively boycotting the election by declining to register for it, as required by a new election law. The NLD and other democracy advocates have called the election a sham designed to cement military rule.
Suu Kyi`s party won Myanmar`s last election in 1990, but the Army never allowed it to take power. She has been detained, mostly under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years.
Suu Kyi was driven from her home in a three-car police motorcade to the nearby government guesthouse for the talks with Campbell. Details of their conversation were not immediately known.
Campbell arrived on Sunday and met with senior junta officials in the remote administrative capital of Naypyitaw before flying Monday to Yangon, the biggest city. Among the officials he met were Foreign Minister Nyan Win, Information Minister Kyaw San and Science and Technology Minister U Thaung — Myanmar`s former envoy in Washington — who is the point person for the US-Myanmar engagement.
"We are troubled by much of what we have seen. We have very real concerns about the election and the environment that has been created," Campbell told a news conference Sunday during a stopover in the Thai capital, Bangkok. The visit is Campbell`s second in six months to Myanmar.
Relations between Myanmar, also known as Burma, and the US have been strained since its military crushed pro-democracy protests in 1988, killing hundreds, possibly thousands, of demonstrators. Since then, Washington has been Myanmar`s strongest critic, applying political and economic sanctions against the junta for its poor human rights record and failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government.
Campbell, however, said he would continue a dialogue with all sides in Myanmar as part of a new Washington policy of engagement rather than isolation of the ruling generals.