Burma's foreign minister says an early release of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi could destabilize the country.
Foreign Minister Win Aung told reporters in Indonesia today that the Nobel peace laureate was being held for her own protection. He said the leader of the National League for Democracy party would be released as soon as the situation in Burma returns to normal.
Aung San Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since the military detained her May 30th, after a clash between her supporters and a pro-government mob.
The junta has blamed her for the clash, but a State Department spokesman said Monday Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her party were victims of a "premeditated" attack when they were detained.
Meanwhile, pressure mounted on Burma to release Aung San Suu Kyi when President Bush signed a bill Monday imposing economic sanctions on the government.
Approved by the U.S. Congress two weeks ago, the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act strengthens previous sanctions, including visa restrictions on Burma's military leaders and a 1997 ban on new investment by U.S. companies. It also condemns Burma's human rights record and voices support for Aung San Suu Kyi's democracy movement.
Also on Monday, the head of the International Red Cross delegation in Burma was allowed to speak with the detained democracy leader in a private setting without interference from government officials. A spokesman said she has not been hurt, but he offered no other details.