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Burma's Military Ruler Sets Conditions for Talks with Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi


Burma's state media says the country's military ruler is willing to meet with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as the crackdown against pro-democracy activists continues.

State media reported Thursday that General Than Shwe told UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari this week that he is willing to meet directly with the opposition leader if she gives up her support for confrontation and sanctions against the government.

Gambari, who met with both figures during his trip to Burma, is preparing to report today to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on last week's bloody crackdown in Rangoon.

Ban said Wednesday that Gambari delivered a strong message to the ruling generals. But the secretary-general said he could not call the trip a success.

Witnesses say the military government has rounded up more activists in night-time raids in Rangoon. State media today put the number of arrests over the past week at more than two thousand.

Burmese authorities today released a UN staff member along with her two relatives and driver who were detained Wednesday.

Some military officers are refusing to follow orders, and there are reports of dissension in the military's ranks. One former colonel told VOA (in an interview in Bangkok) he fled Burma because he could not follow orders to use violence.

Burmese officials say the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters left 10 people dead. Dissidents put the number of fatalities at 200.

It is difficult to get complete reports from inside the country. Burmese authorities have blocked Internet access and have put restrictions on telecommunications and visits by foreign journalists.

The UN Security Council is expected to meet Friday to discuss the human rights situation in Burma.

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

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