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US Urges Burma to Release Thousands of Political Prisoners


A senior U.S. diplomat is calling on Burma's military rulers to release thousands of political prisoners and resume dialogue with their regional neighbors.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill says if Burma makes progress in these areas, Washington will respond.

He was speaking today-Tuesday in Bangkok at start of a meeting with diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

Hill urged ASEAN to keep working for the restoration of democracy in Burma. He also repeated U.S. calls on Burma's government to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the past 16 years under house arrest.

Burma's government allowed U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon last week. Hill says U.S. officials will consult with Gambari on his talks with the pro-democracy leader and Burmese officials.

Last week, President Bush extended U.S. economic sanctions on Burma for another year. The sanctions have been in place since 1997.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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