YANGON, Myanmar—Released Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met Saturday with a senior U.N. official and said she hopes the talks will be the first of many with the world body to solve the country’s problems.
Suu Kyi met for more than an hour with Vijay Nambiar, chief of staff for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his special envoy to the military-controlled country. Nambiar also planned to meet with government leaders during his weekend visit to Myanmar. Suu Kyi told reporters in brief comments at her lakeside home that the talks were “very valuable.”
“But one meeting is not enough. I hope this is the first of many meetings. I think we may need many and frequent meetings to sort out all the problems we are facing,” she said. Since her release Nov. 13 from more than seven years of continuous house arrest, Suu Kyi has been busy talking with diplomats, politicians and international agencies.
The 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate has made it clear she plans to pursue her goal of a democratic Myanmar but has been careful not to verbally challenge the ruling junta.
Nambiar planned to hold talks with the foreign minister and secretary-general of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, according to diplomatic sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.
Suu Kyi “believes that the visit could be conducive to Myanmar’s political development,” her spokesman, Nyan Win, said before the meeting. “Although the United Nations has its limitations in implementing its tasks, we respect the role of the U.N.” This is Nambiar’s first visit to Myanmar since he took over the position of special envoy from Ibrahim Gambari, who last visited Myanmar in June 2009.
A long line of U.N. officials, including Ban, has attempted to broker talks between the opposing sides, but have failed to bring them together despite numerous claims of breakthroughs.
The ruling generals and Suu Kyi, their longtime archrival, have had no contact since she was freed. She has called for face-to-face reconciliation talks with junta leader Gen. Than Shwe.
Suu Kyi’s political party overwhelmingly won elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power. No elections were held until this month, when the pro-military party was victorious amid widespread claims the balloting was rigged.
The junta regards Suu Kyi and her nonviolent struggle for democracy as a threat to its power. She has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years.