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US Envoy: Some Moves Towards Political Solution In Burma - 2004-01-31


A senior US envoy says there appears to be "some movement" towards a solution to political problems in Burma.

But U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly insisted that pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi be part of the national dialogue and the planned constitutional convention.

Mr. Kelly made the comments Friday to local reporters on the sidelines of an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) conference in Bangkok.

Burma's foreign minister announced last month his government will hold a national convention to draft a new constitution in 2004.

Most diplomats were initially skeptical of the announcement.

Earlier this week, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that for there to be stability in Burma, there needs to be "substantive discussions" among the government, the democratic opposition and ethnic minorities leading to national reconciliation and restoration of democracy.

Meanwhile, Japan's foreign ministry says it plans to resume some small aid to Burma.

Reuters news agency, quoting a government official, says the aid is limited in size and Tokyo will not resume large-scale aid to Burma at this time.

The official said the aid is being provided because Rangoon has shown some signs of progress towards democracy.

Japan cut off new aid to Burma after it detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi following clashes between her supporters and government backers in May.

Tokyo also stopped large-scale loans and economic assistance to Rangoon after the current military government took power in 1988 -- although it continued small-scale humanitarian assistance.

Information for this report is provided by Reuters.

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