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Focus; SLORC Told Ramos To Transfer

RANGOON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Burmese leader and Senior General Than Shwe told
Philippine President Fidel Ramos on Wednesday there would be a peaceful
transfer of power to an elected government in Burma after a new constitution
was drafted. 

Than Shwe, chairman of Rangoon's ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC), said there was no fixed timetable for completing the draft
but SLORC had no intention of prolonging the constitution writing process

Philippine foreign under-secretary Rodolfo Severino, who attended the talks,
gave details of the meeting in a news briefing for Filipino reporters
accompanying Ramos, which was broadcast on state radio in Manila. 

``He (Than Shwe) said they are now at the stage where they are discussing the
very delicate question of power sharing and what he means here is power
sharing between the centre and the minority areas,'' Severino said. 

``There is no specific timetable for completion of the constitution but he
stressed that the government has no desire to prolong the writing of the
constitution indefinitely,'' Severino added. 

``The aim of constitution writing is unity of the races, democracy and
national reconciliation so that once the constitution is completed then power
will be transferred peacefully to an elected government,'' Severino quoted
Tan Shwe as telling Ramos. 

The talks took place shortly after Ramos arrived in Rangoon for a three-day
visit as the first leader from the Association of South East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) to visit that country since the regional grouping admitted Burma as a
new member in July. 

ASEAN groups the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore,
Brunei, Vietnam, Burma and Laos. 

Ramos, who will go to Laos from Burma, has said he will try to spread the
gospel of democracy in his trip but that he would use gentle persuasion and
not criticism. 

Ramos said last week Manila's Foreign Office was trying to arrange a meeting
between him and Burmese opposition leader and National League for Democracy
(NLD) secretary general Aung San Suu Kyi. 

But he later denied such an effort was made and there was no indication a
meeting would take place during Ramos's trip. 

Severino said Than Shwe told Ramos SLORC officials met NLD chairman Aung Shwe
in July but that Suu Kyi -- who was excluded from the talks -- ``prohibited''
the NLD from attending another meeting. 

The NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990 that was never recognised. 

16:09 10-15-97