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US Concerned About Detention of Burmese Pro-Democracy Leader - 2004-04-19


The United States says it welcomes the re-opening of the headquarters of Burma's top opposition political party -- but remains concerned about the continued detention of its leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

A State Department spokesman (Richard Boucher) Monday called for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of others imprisoned for what he called the "peaceful expression of their political beliefs."

Aung San Suu Kyi -- a Nobel Peace Prize laureate -- has been under house arrest for nearly a year.

But leaders of her political party, the National League for Democracy, or NLD, said Monday she will be released in a day or two. Sunday, the U.N. envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, also said she will be released in the next few days.

Mr. Ismail spoke in Malaysia, one day after EU foreign ministers agreed Burma can join a Euro-Asian economic and political partnership if it frees Aung San Suu Kyi.

Saturday, Burma's military government allowed the NLD to re-open its headquarters in the capital, Rangoon.

The party was forced to close its offices amid a crackdown last year that followed a confrontation between a pro-government mob and NLD supporters.

Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested soon after.

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