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Indonesian Envoy Presses Burma to Free Aung San Suu Kyi - 2003-09-22


A special envoy from Indonesia has met with Burma's prime minister in a bid to gain the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas met with Prime Minister Khin Nyunt for more than an hour Monday in Rangoon. He delivered a letter from Indonesia's President Megawati Sukarnoputri. The contents of the letter were not disclosed.

Mr. Alatas is scheduled to meet with the country's top leader, General Than Shwe, on Tuesday. He seemed less certain that he will be allowed to meet with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi while he is in Burma on a mission for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate is recovering at a private hospital after undergoing surgery last week. Her doctor says she is eating solid food and is able to walk, but will not be receiving visitors.

Indonesia currently is chair of ASEAN, and it wants fellow member Burma to free the democracy campaigner ahead of an October summit.

No details of the meeting with General Khin Nyunt were released, but it is considered a key point in the visit by the envoy, who flew to Rangoon Sunday and is expected to stay at least four days.

On his arrival, Mr. Alatas said he expected to meet with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. On Monday, he told Reuters news agency it is up to Burma's military government to decide whether a meeting will take place.

Analysts say her recovery from surgery may provide Burma's ruling generals with a face-saving way to shift Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi to house arrest from the secret detention she has served for almost four months. Until she was admitted to the hospital, she had been held at an undisclosed location since a May 30th clash between her supporters and a group of pro-government demonstrators.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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