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Updated: November 16, 2009 02:10 IST

Obama calls for Suu Kyi's freedom

P. S. Suryanarayana
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Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi smiles while exiting the Inya Lake Hotel after meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell in Yangon on November 4, 2009.
AP Myanmar's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi smiles while exiting the Inya Lake Hotel after meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell in Yangon on November 4, 2009.

United States President Barack Obama on Sunday called for the unconditional release of Myanmar's celebrated democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Under house arrest under the orders of Myanmar's military rulers, Ms. Suu Kyi has spent over 14 years in detention, including a brief spell in prison.

Mr. Obama spelt out his position when he met Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein and nine other leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations here during the first-ever U.S.-Asean summit.

In a short "door-stop comment" soon after the summit, Mr. Obama said: "I reaffirmed the policy that I put forward yesterday [Saturday] in Tokyo with regard to Burma [Myanmar]."

The centrepiece of that policy is a call for "clear steps that must be taken — the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi; an end to conflicts with minority groups; and a genuine dialogue between the government, the democratic opposition and minority groups on a shared vision for the future." The other key aspect of the policy, as spelt out by Mr. Obama in Tokyo, was a parallel call for "concrete steps towards democratic reform" in Myanmar.

Mr. Obama said: "We are now communicating directly with the leadership [in Myanmar] to make it clear that existing [American] sanctions will remain until there are concrete steps towards democratic reform. We support a Burma that is unified, peaceful, prosperous, and democratic. And, as Burma moves in that direction, a better relationship with the U.S. is possible."

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