Friday, November 9

Breakthrough in Burma!

Ibrahim Gambari's shuttle diplomacy, U.S. financial sanctions against Burma's army officers, upcoming ASEAN meeting, wholesale gem buyers' boycott of Burma's gems, protests to the junta from ASEAN members and China, continuing unrest among Burmans despite the crackdown, continuing expressions of outrage around the world, disagreement in the junta's ranks over attacks on Burma's monks, and just maybe the junta reading a hint from Sarkozy's threat to withdraw France's Total oil company from Iran -- not by any which way but by combined events and sustained efforts, a breakthrough:
YANGON (Reuters)- Detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi thinks there may have been a change of heart within the junta on political reform after September's bloody crackdown on democracy protests, her party said on Friday.

At a two-hour meeting with top members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) -- her first in more than three years -- Suu Kyi said the generals were "serious and really willing to work for national reconciliation", spokesman Nyan Win said.

"She is optimistic," he told reporters at NLD headquarters in Yangon, citing unspecified "practical measures" as reasons to think the military that has ruled for the last 45 years may be willing to consider relaxing its total grip on power.

However, Nyan Win said Suu Kyi, 62, had also asked for two NLD liaison officers to be appointed, suggesting there was little prospect of the Nobel laureate being released any time soon.

Suu Kyi, who has spent 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest, also had a second meeting on Friday with General Aung Kyi, a go-between appointed as a result of world outrage at September's crackdown, in which at least 10 people were killed.

In a statement released on her behalf by U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari after his second visit in a month, Suu Kyi described her initial contact with Aung Kyi as constructive and said she was ready to work with the military to establish proper negotiations.

"In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the government in order to make this process of dialogue a success," she said in her first public comments since her latest period of detention began in May 2003.

A junta statement saying it would "make efforts steadfastly for national reconciliation with the correct cooperation of the U.N. Secretary General" also gave cause for hope, despite the army's litany of broken promises. [...]

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