- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

From combined dispatches

RANGOON, Burma — A U.N. envoy who met with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday said she is “well and in good spirits” and could be released within two weeks.

Razali Ismail was the first outsider to meet with Mrs. Suu Kyi since she was detained by Burma’s military government May 30 and moved to a secret location. Her arrest came after clashes between her supporters and government backers that prompted a crackdown on her pro-democracy party.

After arriving back in Malaysia, his home country, Mr. Razali said he urged Burma’s government to release Mrs. Suu Kyi right away.

“I have been telling them to do it immediately, but they take time,” he said. “They said they still have to look at other circumstances.”

The envoy earlier held talks with two of the junta’s top generals, who he said assured him Mrs. Suu Kyi’s detention will be lifted quickly.

“They gave assurances, but they didn’t give specific dates,” he said. “I think two weeks, they should release her.”

Burma’s deputy foreign minister, Khin Maung Win, issued a statement saying the “safe custody measures” against Mrs. Suu Kyi will be lifted, but did not disclose a specific time.

World leaders, including President Bush, have urged Burma’s generals to release Mrs. Suu Kyi and threatened more economic sanctions against the nation, formally known as Myanmar.

Yesterday, Mr. Bush enlisted Thailand’s help in pressing for Burma to immediately release Mrs. Suu Kyi and threatened to expand travel restrictions and other sanctions on the country’s military rulers.

“We are reviewing our policy with regard to the current situation,” a Bush administration official said.

Mr. Bush and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand, Burma’s neighbor, used their White House meeting to keep up the pressure.

“The two leaders agreed on the need for immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other National League for Democracy members,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters.

There were widespread concerns that Mrs. Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent struggle for democracy, was injured during her detention.

“I can assure you she is well and in good spirits. No injury on the face, arm,” said Mr. Razali, who met with her for an hour.

He left Burma soon after the meeting and told reporters during a stopover in Singapore that the detention and the crackdown could potentially undermine the national reconciliation process.

“This is a point I have made to the government and Aung San Suu Kyi. They have to get back to discussing things with each other as expeditiously as possible,” he said.

Mr. Razali also said the government must free several members of Mrs. Suu Kyi’s party, who are being held in different places. In Rangoon, he said Mrs. Suu Kyi told him her version of the May 30 events, but he did not elaborate.

The government said her motorcade tried to go through thousands of pro-government protesters, and four persons were killed.

But exiled opposition figures in Thailand said pro-junta thugs started the violence and as many as 70 persons were killed.

The U.S. State Department said the May 30 clash appears to have been an ambush by junta supporters. It said events suggest the junta has ended efforts at national reconciliation, opened most recently in late 2000 and brokered by Mr. Razali in a series of visits.

Since the clash, offices of Mrs. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party have been shut and other party leaders are under house arrest.

Mrs. Suu Kyi spent six years under house arrest from 1989 to 1995. Her party won general elections in 1990 but was blocked by the military from taking power.

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