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Canadian Secretary of State for Asia Pacific Urges the Military Government to Resume Dialogue - 2002-10-10


A top Canadian official stated that any meaningful dialogue between his country and the Burmese military government depends on the unconditional release of all political prisoners.

Canada's Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, David Kilgour, said that about 14-hundred to 16-hundred political prisoners remain in jails --"often in terrible conditions." He reported that Burma has released fewer than 300 prisoners in the past 20 months.

Mr. Kilgour said that Ottawa has no current plans to reestablish relations with Burma. Canada broke off high-level bilateral ties with Burma in 1988, when the military junta came to power.

The secretary of state also urged the government to start serious talks about a transition to democratic rule with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The best-known case of Burma's political prisoners, Ms. Suu Kyi was released from 19 months of house arrest in May.

Mr. Kilgour made his comments on Wednesday at a conference on Burma in Ottawa. He also added that poverty, infant morality, malnutrition among children, and infections with H-I-V, the virus that causes AIDS, are increasing rapidly in Burma.

Information provided by Reuters.

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