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Burmese Democracy Leader Says Burma Needs Speedy Progress - 2003-03-14


VOA Burmese Service chief Khin Maung Htay interviewed Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi about her views on U.S. policy toward Burma, as well as the situation in North Korea.

Q: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as you know, last month, our Assistant Secretary of State (Lorne Craner), in one of his speeches, said the United States might have to consider stiffening sanctions against Burma because Burma has made no progress whatsoever in making reforms. What do you think of that?

ASSK: It's true that there has been no progress in Burma, and it is for the United States government to decide what they think is the action necessary to help the process along.

Q: On the other hand, Mr. (Sergio Paulo) Pinheiro, the UN human rights envoy, said to the effect that you cannot push Burma to change instantly--change must come incrementally and the world community should not isolate Burma but engage with Burma. What do you say to that?

ASSK: Well, we are not asking for instant change. If you consider the fact that we have been struggling for change for 14 years, you can hardly call this instant change. And, I wonder what he meant by incrementally. It's very easy for people who are not in a situation in which we find ourselves to talk about incremental change. I think, it is wrong to talk about taking things slowly when the need is a speedy progress.

Q: After Mr. Craner's talk about the United States considering toughening sanctions against Burma, the Burmese government released a statement to the effect that it invites the United States to participate in making changes in Burma. What do you think of that?

ASSK: I don't know whether this was an official invitation, or not. But I agree with those opinions that it is more important for us in Burma, that is to say the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) and the NLD (National League for Democracy), to talk to each other first than for the SPDC (military government) to invite the United States government to talk to them.

Q: I would like to ask you about international affairs. You know that the situations in Iraq and North Korea demand world attention and world action. And I would like to know your stand on nuclear proliferation and the right to …

ASSK: (Laughing) I'm not for nuclear proliferation, of course--not for anything that will endanger the world. I think, we will have to work, both to contain violence in this world and to disseminate peace.

Q: Of course. What about your stand regarding the United States having the right to go into another country that is sheltering terrorists?

ASSK: I think there are many countries in the world sheltering terrorists, and I do not think the United States has the intention to go into every one of them.

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