miércoles, 11 de noviembre de 2009

Obama to seek release of Suu Kyi at summit- Obama en Asia

US President Barack Obama will make a personal plea for the release of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at his meeting with Asean leaders in Singapore on Sunday, a senior administration official said.

Asked if Obama will press her case, the official told The Straits Times in an interview on Monday: "I think he will. That will be in the context of all political prisoners.

"Of course, she is the most prominent among them. He will probably mention her by name."

The United States has always backed international calls for Suu Kyi's release but lending Obama's considerable personal heft to the appeal is likely to turn up the pressure on Burma.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, has been under house arrest for more than 11 of the past 20 years. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won Burma's last elections in 1990 but its military rulers refused to recognise the result.

Rangoon has periodically hinted at her release. On Monday, a Foreign Ministry official said she would be freed 'soon' to prepare for next year's elections.

"There is a plan to release her soon... so she can organise her party," Min Lwin, a director-general in the Foreign Ministry, told The Associated Press in Manila. He refused to elaborate.

Obama is expected to make a "general intervention" for her release as he exchanges views with the 10 South-east Asian leaders, including Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein, said the US official who did not wish to be identified.

While stressing its keenness to engage the region in the first US-Asean summit, the White House is being careful to keep on the right side of public opinion by ruling out the possibility of Obama holding a one-on-one meeting with the Burmese representative.

"The meeting is with the 10 heads of state and governments of Asean. One of them will be the Prime Minister of Burma," another senior administration official said on Monday at a background briefing ahead of Obama's trip to Asia.

"The statement we're trying to make is that we're not going to let the Burmese tail wag the Asean dog here. We're going to meet all 10, and we're not going to punish the other nine simply because Burma is in the room. But this is not a bilateral," the official added.

Under Obama, the US has chosen to break with its past policy of isolating the regime.

"We are not expecting regime change...We simply want to be there to facilitate and influence in positive ways the transition of that country," the senior administration official told The Straits Times.

"The President may sum it up simply by saying that 'look we are interested in the emergence of a stable, prosperous, peaceful Burma, we are ready to help assist in that process if we can find areas of positive cooperation'.

"And he's going to remind them that it's incumbent on them to make positive changes."

He defined some of the 'concrete' steps the US hopes to see - allowing Suu Kyi's party and some of the country's ethnic groups to participate in the political process.

So far, the junta has not shown any inclination to let Suu Kyi contest in next year's elections. That, the official said, is considered by Washington as the litmus test of how far Burma's rulers are willing to go to make it a more inclusive state.