Thursday, October 4

Than Shwe announces willingness to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi but gesture too little, too late to save face

Than Shwe's gesture is aimed at appeasing those within his regime who are angry at the government's complete loss of face on the world stage. They hold him personally responsible for the huge setback. Now the only way for the regime to restore face is for Than Shwe to step down for health reasons.
Gen. Than Shwe told [UN envoy] Ibrahim Gambari during their talks Tuesday that he will "personally meet" Ms. Suu Kyi if she says she will abandon "her stances of confrontation, utter devastation, economic sanctions and imposition of all sanctions," [Burma's] state TV and radio reported.

The announcement aimed to show the government was not entirely inflexible and was willing to deal with the opposition in the aftermath of the biggest pro-democracy uprising it has faced in nearly two decades. If it takes place, the meeting would be Ms. Suu Kyi's first with any senior junta figure in five years.

Gen. Than Shwe's preconditions are not new -- the junta has regularly called on Ms. Suu Kyi to give up her confrontational attitude -- but it is the first time the junta leader has said he is willing to meet with her. This willingness is remarkable given that Gen. Than Shwe has a strong dislike for the Nobel peace laureate and is said to bristle with anger even at the mention of her name. Ms. Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, is not known to have met a senior junta leader since 2002
1) Wall Street Journal Online, Oct 4, 11 AM eastern time

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