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Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi in 'Protective Custody' - 2003-06-15


Burma's foreign minister says pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is being held in protective custody to keep her safe from assassins.

Speaking in Phnom Penh today (Sunday), on the eve of a meeting of regional foreign ministers, Burma's Win Aung gave little information beyond saying his government had heard that assassins were at large in the country.

There is no information about whom the un-named assassins were targeting, the foreign minister said. But if Aung San Suu Kyi was harmed, he added, the military government would be blamed.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate and the head of Burma's National League for Democracy, has been detained since May 30th, when her supporters clashed with supporters of the military junta. Since then, most other NLD leaders have been placed under house arrest and the party's offices have been closed.

Mr. Win Aung says Aung San Suu Kyi will be released when the situation in Burma returns to normal, but he did not say when that might be.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and top diplomats from several other nations are expected to press Burma to free the NLD leader when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers' meeting begins in Cambodia on Monday.

Many analysts say the ASEAN states are unlikely to focus on the issue, however, since the group has a policy of not interfering in the internal affairs of its members.

Mr. Win Aung says his government remains committed to national reconciliation. He calls the May 30th violence "very unfortunate."

The government says four people died in the incident in northern Burma, but human-rights groups say the toll was much higher.

Information for this report is provided by reuters,ap and afp

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