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Japan Urges Myanmar-Suu Kyi Talks

May 01, 1998 at 13:46:38 PDT 

                Japan Urges Myanmar-Suu Kyi Talks

                ASSOCIATED PRESS

                BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Japan has demanded that
                Myanmar's military rulers open a dialogue with
                pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and insists that
                Tokyo's aid freeze against the junta will remain in place.

                Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has been
                highly critical of Japan's decision to extend a loan to the
                government to upgrade safety at Yangon's international
                airport, saying the money will simply encourage more human
                rights violations.

                Ken Shimanouchi, deputy press secretary in Japan's Foreign
                Ministry, said Thursday in Bangkok that the airport aid did not
                signal a change in the loan freeze put in place by Tokyo in
                1988 after the bloody suppression of anti-government

                Cracks in the runway and the poor state of the control tower
                meant Yangon's airport did not meet international safety
                standards, Shimanouchi said. He said safety concerns
                persuaded Japan to release part of the airport improvement
                loan that was frozen 10 years ago.

                But the Myanmar government was informed when the $19.5
                million loan was freed in March that Japan remains unhappy
                with the military regime's continuing human-rights abuses,
                Shimanouchi said.

                "We said that the Myanmar government should open a
                meaningful dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi," the spokesman
                said. "We clearly said her name."

                The military has refused Suu Kyi's constant appeals for a
                dialogue to end the country's political deadlock, though it
                to skirt her last year and initiated contacts with other members
                of her National League for Democracy.

                The military has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since
                1962. Suu Kyi, daughter of independence hero Aung San,
                vaulted to prominence during the 1988 protests and has spent
                most of the time since under house arrest or close

                Her supporters overwhelmingly won elections in 1990, but the
                military never allowed the parliament to convene.

                This week, human rights groups deplored death sentences
                handed out to six opponents of Myanmar's military