RANGOON, Burma – Burma's junta leader has allowed detained Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to meet Western diplomats to discuss sanctions imposed against the military-ruled country, government officials said Friday.
The Nobel Prize winner, who remains under house arrest, was driven to a government guesthouse to meet with diplomats of the United States, Great Britain and Australia, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
The meeting lasted about one hour. After it concluded, Suu Kyi was driven back to her lakeside residence, where she has spent 14 of the last 20 years under house arrest.
Suu Kyi sent a letter to junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe on Sept. 26, stating her willingness to cooperate with the military government to have the sanctions lifted and seeking permission to meet with Western diplomats in order to understand positions of governments that imposed the sanctions.
The 64-year-old democracy icon had previously welcomed sanctions as a way to pressure the junta to achieve political reconciliation with the pro-democracy movement. Suu Kyi's opposition party has insisted on concessions from the government if they are to work together, particularly the freeing of political prisoners.
Suu Kyi requested meetings with diplomats from the U.S., EU and Australia and said she needed to meet her party to understand their position on sanctions.
After the letter, Burma Relations Minister Aung Kyi met with Suu Kyi twice within a week. The second meeting took place Wednesday.
Details of these talks have not been disclosed, but the spokesman for her National League for Democracy, Nyan Win, said Friday that he hoped the junta would also agree to her second request in the letter -- a meeting with her opposition party's members.
Last week, a court rejected Suu Kyi's appeal against the extension of her widely condemned house arrest.
The court ruling against Suu Kyi upheld her August conviction for breaking the terms of her house arrest by briefly sheltering an uninvited American at her home earlier this year. She was sentenced to an additional 18 months of house arrest -- which means she cannot participate in elections scheduled for next year, the first in Burma in two decades.
Suu Kyi's legal team said they plan to appeal to the Supreme Court within 60 days.