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Japan Freezes Economic Aid to Burma - 2003-06-25


Japanese officials say Tokyo has decided to freeze financial assistance to Burma due to the military government's continued detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

A foreign ministry official (Kojiro Matsumoto) told the Associated Press that Japan -- Burma's largest international donor -- would consider resuming aid if Aung San Suu Kyi is released.

The statement came as UN special envoy Razali Ismail met with Japanese officials in Tokyo. Mr. Razali is the only outsider to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi since her arrest.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called Burma's military government brutal, corrupt and incompetent for its crackdown on civilian rule and democracy. In an editorial in today's "Financial Times" newspaper, Mr. Straw also re-iterated British claims that Aung San Suu Kyi is being held in Burma's notorious Insein prison, outside Rangoon.

Burma denies she is being held at Insein, but refused to elaborate.

Tuesday, a senior U.S. State Department official (Lorne Craner) said the United States has lost patience with the Burmese government over its treatment of the Nobel peace laureate.

Military authorities arrested Aung San Suu Kyi after a deadly crash between opposition members and government supporters in northern Burma May 30th. They say she is being held for her own protection, but will not say when she will be released.

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