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AP-Report: U.N., Myanmar in secret

Subject: AP-Report: U.N., Myanmar in secret talks over dialogue with Suu

11/26/98 -- 4:41 AM

Report: U.N., Myanmar in secret talks over dialogue with Suu

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - The World Bank and the United Nations have offered
$1 billion in aid to Myanmar if the military regime opens a dialogue with
the opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a newspaper reported today.

U.N. envoy Alvaro de Soto presented the plan several weeks ago and it may
represent the best chance yet to overcome the government's reluctance to
hold talks with the opposition, the International Herald-Tribune reported,
citing unidentified sources involved in the negotiations.

World Bank officials in Bangkok would not comment on the matter.

The initiative comes amid a deepening deadlock between Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy and the military. If it succeeds, the United States
would withdraw its long-standing veto of any World Bank or International
Monetary Fund assistance to Myanmar, the newspaper said.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by the military since 1962. One
of the world's poorest countries, it is under economic and political
sanctions by the United States and other countries opposed to the
government's poor human-rights record.

Both sides reportedly responded well to the overture, but it would require
significant government and opposition compromises. Progress would be
rewarded by increasing amounts of financial assistance and humanitarian aid,
the International Herald-Tribune reported.

The first steps would be for the government to free political prisoners,
allow Suu Kyi freedom of movement - the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner is
largely confined to her house - and permit her party to function.

Those would amount to huge concessions from the government, which released
some prisoners two months ago but since has taken hundreds more opposition
members into custody to persuade them to quit the party.

In exchange, the National League for Democracy party would agree to rescind
calls to convene the opposition-dominated parliament that was elected in
1990. The military has never allowed the parliament to meet.

Suu Kyi said earlier this week that she has no intention of withdrawing her
call to convene parliament.