Dr. Zarni, founder of a U.S.-based grassroots organization the Free Burma Coalition, recently visited Rangoon for one day and met with officials of the Ministry of Defense.
In an interview with VOA Burmese Service, Dr. Zarni said his confidential visit to Burma on May 31, 2004 was made possible by the U.S. government in terms of logistical support and official encouragement.
The Burmese dissident who has been active for the last nine years in pushing sanctions against the military junta in Burma with great success has recently taken a different political stance citing what he calls the “geo-political realities” within and beyond the Southeast Asian region with regard to Burma and the need to explore an alternative approach to national reconciliation and democratization in the military-ruled nation.
Dr. Zarni said the purpose of his Burma trip during which he exchanged views with three Burmese military intelligence officials was to see if there are constructive ways to help build bridge between the National League for Democracy and State Peace and Development Council and to find out ways in which the United States can be more constructive about helping break the political stalemate in Rangoon, rather than simply increasing sanctions.
Burmese officials, however, did not permit Dr. Zarni to see Aung San Suu Kyi nor other NLD leaders to exchange views with them.