Suu Kyi supports US policy

YANGON: Detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is aware of an upcoming visit by two American officials and supports the new U.S. policy of engaging with Myanmar's military rulers, her lawyer said Saturday.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and a deputy will be in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for a two-day visit beginning Tuesday and are scheduled to meet with the government and the opposition, including Suu Kyi.

The trip is part of a new U.S. policy that reverses the Bush administration's shunning of Myanmar in favor of direct, high-level talks with a country that has been ruled by the military since 1962. Campbell will be continuing talks he began in September in New York with senior Myanmar officials, the first such high-level contact in nearly a decade.

"We told Daw Aung San Suu Kyi about the visit of the U.S. officials and she is aware of the visit," said Suu Kyi's party spokesman and lawyer, Nyan Win, who met with her Thursday. "Since the U.S. diplomats are meeting both the government and opposition members, things are happening as she had wanted."

Supporters of engagement argue that isolating the country has limited U.S. influence among Myanmar's citizens and allowed China to establish a strong business and diplomatic foothold. Campbell says that engaging Myanmar will enable the United States to learn more about the intentions of the leaders of a country it knows even less about than North Korea.

Critics say high-level U.S. attention validates a violent junta that has repeatedly killed and abused its people for speaking out in opposition.

Washington has said it will still maintain its tough political and economic sanctions against the regime. The U.S. and other Western nations apply sanctions because of Myanmar's poor human rights record and its failure to turn over power to Suu Kyi's party after it won the last elections in 1990.

Nyan Win said the U.S. Embassy in Yangon was making arrangements with Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy for the visiting U.S. officials to meet with party leaders.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has spent 14 of the last 20 years in detention.

In August, she was convicted and sentenced to an additional 18 months of house arrest for briefly sheltering an uninvited American man at her home. The sentence, which ensured that she would not be able to participate in elections scheduled for next year, drew international condemnation.