Dialogue with Suu Kyi is not impossible – Myanmar Junta

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar. Dialogue between Burma’s junta and ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to end the bloody crisis sparked by the overthrow of her government last February is “not impossible”, a junta spokesman told Reuters on Friday. Agence France-Presse (AFP). .

The Southeast Asian nation has been plunged into chaos since the coup, with renewed fighting with rebel ethnic groups, dozens of “People’s Defense Forces” springing up to fight the junta and the economy in tatters.

Suu Kyi, 77, has been kept virtually incommunicado by the military and was recently moved from house arrest to solitary confinement as she faces multiple trials that could see her sentenced to more than 150 years in prison.

“There is nothing impossible in politics,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told AFP when asked if the junta could enter into dialogue with Suu Kyi to resolve the troubles. “We can not say that [negotiations with Suu Kyi] are impossible.”

“Several countries” had requested the opening of a dialogue with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, he said without giving details.

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Diplomatic efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, have so far failed to stop the bloodshed.

Last year, the 10-member regional bloc agreed on a “five-point consensus” that calls for an end to violence and constructive dialogue, but the junta has largely ignored it.

ASEAN envoy and Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn arrived in Myanmar on Wednesday for his second visit aimed at reviving dialogue between the junta and opponents of his regime.

He met junta leader Min Aung Hlaing on Thursday and members of several political parties in the military capital Naypyitaw on Friday, a junta spokesman said.

The junta did not allow Prak Sokhonn to surrender to Suu Kyi.

“We carried out everything she asked regarding her health and living situation,” Zaw Min Tun said of Suu Kyi’s new living conditions in prison.

Dangling the prospect of a dialogue would be “consistent with their (junta’s) political calculation”, independent Myanmar analyst David Mathieson told AFP.

“Punish to the extreme and then conciliate to make sure they stay in power. Suu Kyi is potentially their way out – if they can overcome their hatred for her,” he said.

Fighting continues across swathes of the country, with local media reporting killings and burnings by junta troops as they struggle to crush opposition to their coup.

Nearly 700,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the putsch, the United Nations announced in May.

Thailand dispatched F-16 fighter jets on Thursday after a Myanmar plane involved in operations against anti-coup fighters near its border violated Thai airspace.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was due to land in Myanmar on Friday for a regional meeting, in what will be Beijing’s most high-profile visit to Myanmar since the coup.

It was unclear whether a meeting between Wang and Min Aung Hlaing would take place, a junta spokesman said.

China is a major arms supplier and ally of the junta, and has refused to call the military takeover a “coup”.

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