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Burmese Opposition Anticipates Democracy Leader's Release - 2003-06-12


Burmese opposition groups are welcoming news that pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is in good health and may be released soon.

United Nations envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, spoke to reporters Wednesday -- a day after Burmese authorities allowed him to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.

Mr. Ismail was on a five-day mission to win her freedom. He said the government promised to release her from detention soon, possibly within two weeks.

Burma's Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win issued a statement repeating assurances that Aung San Suu Kyi's detention is only temporary. He said it will end as soon as the government completes an investigation into violent clashes two weeks ago between opposition and pro-government groups in northern Burma.

Burmese officials have said four people were killed in the violence, but pro-democracy supporters contend many more died.

Officials say they detained Aung San Suu Kyi for her own protection. She was unhurt in the fighting.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan met Wednesday in Washington and condemned Aung San Suu Kyi's arrest.

Mr. Powell compared Burma to the political crisis in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, where he says members of the opposition risk their lives and those who disagree with the government are jailed.

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