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Burma FM: Government Takes Criticism Over Detention Seriously - 2003-06-19


Burma's foreign minister says his country's military government is taking international criticism over pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's detention seriously.

However, Win Aung -- speaking to reporters in Cambodia today (Thursday) -- refused to say when the Nobel peace laureate would be freed from custody.

Win Aung also dismissed U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's labeling of the military government as "brutal," saying Rangoon is not, in his words, "heartless."

Aung San Suu Kyi is spending her 58th birthday today in detention. She has been in custody since May 30th, following violent clashes between pro-democracy activists and government supporters.

Burmese exiles are holding protests worldwide today to demand her release. Rallies are scheduled for Washington, London, Brussels and several other cities, while protests have taken place in Bangkok and Seoul.

Meanwhile, a key U.S. Senator wants the Bush administration to expel Burma's ambassador to Washington until the military government frees Aung San Suu Kyi.

Senator Mitch McConnell called the Burmese government a pariah regime that does not deserve to have an ambassador in Washington.

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

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