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Burma: Suu Kyi Not in Detention - 2003-10-06


Burma has told fellow Southeast Asian nations that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is not under arrest.

The announcement came Sunday from Indonesian Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda, who spoke to reporters after a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Bali. Mr. Wirayuda said he and his colleagues were informed by Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung that the Nobel peace laureate is "not in the status of detention."

It is not clear whether Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is actually free to leave her house, where she has been confined since September 26th. Burma's military government has restricted her movement in the past for years at a time, but has not called it house arrest.

The 58-year-old leader of the National League for Democracy was detained May 30th, after a violent clash between her supporters and government groups.

She was held in isolation at a secret location until last month, when she was admitted to a hospital for major surgery. After the operation, the government said she could recuperate at home.

Her fate overshadowed preparations for a key summit of Southeast Asian leaders Tuesday and Wednesday.

Foreign ministers are debating whether to include a statement about Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi in the draft of a key policy statement.

When he arrived for the summit earlier Sunday, Burmese Foreign Minister Win Aung said she would be freed "eventually."

Burma has been facing increasing international pressure to free Aung San Suu Kyi. Indonesia, Thailand and a United Nations special envoy (Razali Ismail) all have tried and failed to secure a date for her release.

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

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