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Thai And Burmese PMs Meet Amid Criticism of Burma's Roadmap - 2003-11-11


Burma's Prime Minister Khin Nyunt met with his Thai counterpart Thaksin Shinawatra Tuesday amid strong U.N. criticism over Burma's so-called "road map" plan to democracy.

After the talks in Rangoon, Mr. Thaksin said he and the Burmese leader discussed Burma's efforts to make "political progress." He said he believes Burma wants to speed up its transition to democracy in order to encourage economic development.

Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the "road map" plan will not work because Burma's military government prepared it without consulting opposition political leaders.

Separately, U.N. human rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said democracy cannot come to Burma until the government releases all political prisoners, especially members of the National League for Democracy party.

Mr. Thaksin told reporters that in today's (Tuesday's) meeting, he did not raise the issue of the party's detained leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Nobel peace laureate has been detained since May, first at an undisclosed location and then under house arrest at her home in Rangoon. Reports say Burma has agreed to release her but that she is refusing freedom until jailed colleagues from her National League of Democracy are also set free.

The human rights envoy, Mr. Pinheiro, just concluded a six-day trip to Burma to evaluate the human rights situation in the Southeast Asian country. He said Burmese leaders assured him the NLD and seven other unnamed groups would be allowed to take part in a national convention aimed at producing a democratic constitution.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin is in Rangoon for a four-nation summit involving leaders from Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos. He said Tuesday that Thailand will offer credit loans to its three neighbors so they can build their economies.

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