US envoy to meet Suu Kyi: Myanmar official

Myanmar`s ruling junta will allow a US envoy to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi next week, an official said Saturday.

Last Updated: May 08, 2010, 23:00 PM IST

Yangon: Myanmar`s ruling junta will allow a US envoy to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi next week, an official said Saturday, as the country prepares for its first elections in two decades.
Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will arrive in the capital Naypyidaw on Sunday and meet officials including Information Minister Kyaw Hsan, said the Myanmar official.

The next day "he will fly to Yangon to meet with... Aung San Suu Kyi and political parties," added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Campbell, who is expected to return to Bangkok on Monday evening, was unlikely to meet with Prime Minister Thein Sein, the person said.

Suu Kyi`s National League for Democracy (NLD) was forcibly dissolved Thursday under widely criticised laws governing elections that are scheduled for later this year.

The Nobel peace laureate, 64, has been in detention for 14 of the past 20 years. Campbell met her in Yangon last November when he became the highest-ranking US official to visit Myanmar in 14 years.

President Barack Obama`s administration last year launched a policy of engaging the junta in a bid to promote democracy and improve human rights, but has since sharply criticised the junta`s approach to elections.

On Friday the US State Department said Campbell would only go ahead with the visit if he were allowed to see Suu Kyi and other opposition members.

Former top party members said earlier they expected Campbell to meet them and their leader, and they would urge him to push for a dialogue between the junta and the democracy campaigners.

"We were informed to wait tentatively on Monday to meet with Mr Campbell," said Tin Oo, who was the NLD`s vice-chairman. "We also heard he will meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi separately.

"We will discuss with him the matter of the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners" as well as the need for the regime to make its election plans more credible, said Tin Oo. "Daw" is a term of respect in Myanmar.

The NLD refused to meet a May 6 deadline to re-register as a party -- a move that would have forced it to expel its own leader -- and boycotted the vote, which critics say is a sham designed to legitimize the junta`s grip on power.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military since 1962. The NLD won a landslide victory in 1990 elections but the junta never allowed them to take office. A faction within the NLD said this week it would form a new political party but has not decided whether to run in the elections.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Friday that it was "highly regrettable" that the junta created the circumstances in which former NLD members were forced to form a new party after the NLD was disbanded.

The NLD was founded in 1988 after a popular uprising against the military junta that left thousands dead. Years of persecution by the junta has left the NLD in poor shape, and the purist stance taken by the leadership, many aged in their 80s and 90s, has been questioned by a new generation favouring a more pragmatic approach.

Bureau Report