The military junta in Burma has excluded Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders from talks on drafting a new constitution.
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U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack in a written statement condemned "the Burmese regime's rejection of meaningful participation for Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic minority leaders." It is quite clear, he said, that "Senior General Than Shwe and his regime have no intention to begin a genuine, inclusive dialog necessary for a democratic transition with these parties as called for by the international community, including Burma's neighbors, United Nations Adviser Gambari, ASEAN, and the U-N Security Council."Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy, made clear in a recent statement that she remains committed to talks with Burma's military leaders. She also welcomes the assistance of the United Nations. As Mr. McCormack points out, it is "Than Shwe and his senior generals who are obstructing progress toward democratization in Burma."In the meantime, despite having released a number of prisoners, an estimated one-thousand eight-hundred prisoners and detainees remain behind bars in Burma. Thousands were arrested during and since the huge anti-government demonstrations in September. The protests came to a violent end when government forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrators. More than one-thousand political prisoners held before the uprising haven't been released, according to the rights group Amnesty International. The United States condemns the Burmese regime's continued arrest of democracy activists and harassment of Buddhist monks. This repression belies the junta's claims to cooperate fully with the U.N., which has repeatedly sought an end to the detention of political activists. The United States calls for Than Shwe to release Aung San Suu Kyi and other detainees and political prisoners as a necessary condition for a dialogue with democratic and ethnic minority groups on a transition to a civilian, democratic government in Burma.