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AP: Don't Know What NLD Wants From

Subject: AP: Don't Know What NLD Wants From Dialogue

 Associated Press Writer
   RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- Burma's military rulers on Friday freed dozens of
pro-democracy activists detained last week in an attempt to prevent their
leader Aung San Suu Kyi from holding an opposition party conference.
   Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy held the congress anyway,
marking the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate's biggest challenge to the
regime since she was freed from six years of house arrest in July.
   Government radio announced Friday that the junta was freeing its
"guests," and opposition leaders said at least 81 of the 262 detainees were
   It was not known when, or if, the other jailed dissidents would be released.
   In an usual departure from its usual harsh words, the state-run news
media today refrained from calling Suu Kyi a "stooge" of foreign powers and
a "maggot" -- prompting opposition leaders to speculate the regime might be
reconsidering its refusal to open a dialogue with her.
   "When these people were detained, they were all asked a set of five or
six questions," said Kyi Maung, the party's vice chairman. "The one they
really seemed to focus on was, `What do you think the National League for
Democracy really wants from a dialogue?"
   "I think they are seriously contemplating a dialogue. That is my gut
feeling," he said.
   The detentions were widely condemned, and hours before the radio
announcement, the United States said it would send an envoy to Burma to
seek the activists' release.
   State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, speaking in Washington, said
the Burmese authorities "should not be let off scot-free."
   The detainees included 238 delegates to the party conference and 24
ordinary party members. Suu Kyi has predicted those activists the regime
considers most threatening will not be freed.
   Some, including her personal assistant, Win Htein, were reportedly sent
to Insein Prison near Rangoon, notorious for torture. They face national
security charges that allow indefinite detention.
   Those who were freed reported no ill-treatment, the opposition said.
They had been held at military mess halls and clubs and at houses kept by
the feared Military Intelligence.
   Despite the mass arrests, Suu Kyi held the opposition meeting and
pledged to hold more -- implicitly daring the regime to strike again.
   The three-day party conference, which started Sunday, was intended to
bring together opposition candidates who won 392 of 485 seats in 1990
parliamentary elections. The junta never allowed that parliament to
   Many of the opposition candidates have since been killed, jailed or exiled.
   Only 18 delegates eluded arrest and attended the congress, defiantly
demanding that parliament be seated and the military, which has held power
since 1962, leave politics.