Myanmar Pro-Democracy Leader: I'm Ready to Cooperate With Junta

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she is ready to cooperate with her country's junta to bring about national reconciliation, according to her statement released by a U.N. envoy on Thursday.

In the statement, Suu Kyi welcomed the appointment of a government minister, Aung Kyi, to coordinate a possible dialogue for reconciliation between the junta and the pro-democracy opposition.

"In the interest of the nation I stand ready to cooperate with the government in order to make this process of dialogue a success," said Suu Kyi in her statement, released by the envoy, Ibrahim Gambari.

The statement was the first message from Suu Kyi since she was detained in May 2003 and put under house arrest.

Gambari met Suu Kyi for an hour just before his departure Thursday from Myanmar. He flew to Singapore where he read out a statement to reporters. He is supposed to return to U.N. headquarters in New York by Monday.

The developments have raised a glimmer of hope for restoring democracy in Myanmar, which has been under military rule since 1962.

The current junta came to power in 1988. It held elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won a landslide. Suu Kyi, a 1991 Nobel peace laureate, has spent 12 of the last 18 years in government custody.

"We now have a process going which will lead to a dialogue between the government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," Gambari told reporters, using an honorific for elderly women. "Such a dialogue is key instrument in promoting national reconciliation and the goals of peace and democracy and full respect for human rights in Myanmar."

In her statement, Suu Kyi thanked the United Nations for its "unwavering support" for national reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Myanmar.

"In this time of vital need for democratic solidarity and national unity, it is my duty to give constant and serious consideration to the interests and opinions of as broad a range of political organizations and forces as possible, in particular those of our ethnic nationality races," Suu Kyi said.

"To that end I am committed to pursue the path of dialogue constructively and invite the government and all relevant parties to join me in this spirit," she said.