The head of Burma's ruling military junta told the visiting United Nations specialenvoy thathe will meet with opposition leader and pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, but with preconditions, state media reported Thursday.
UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari met separately with Senior Gen. Than Shweand Suu Kyi earlier this weekin the southeast Asian country also known as Myanmar, where an unknown number of protesters have been killed and thousands ofothers have been arrested in a violent crackdown by the militarygovernment following weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations.
According toThursday's state media report, Shwe told Gambari that "in her dealings with the government, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has called for confrontation, utter devastation, economic sanctions and all other sanctions."
"If she abandons these calls, Senior Gen. Than Shwe told Mr. Gambari that he will personally meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," the media report said. Daw is a term of respect for older women.
The state media also reported Thursday that 2,093 people were arrested in the crackdown and 692 have been released.Burmeseauthorities have previouslyreported 10 fatalities on the streets, butdiplomats saythe number is likely much higher.
Citing a former intelligence officer for the military junta, the British newspaper The Daily Mail reported on Monday that thousands of protesters, including monks, have been executed and their bodies dumped in Burma's jungle.
Nighttime arrests continue in Rangoon
The governmentannouncement comes amid reports of dozens more arrests in the dead of night in the country's former capital and largest city, Rangoon, where government forces and police are using video recordings of protests to identify and round up Buddhist monks andcivilians suspected of participating in the massive protests.
The BBC reported a source saying as many as 10,000 people have been detained and questioned in recent days. Information on the detentions is scarce because the military has clamped down on the internet and communications and prevented international media from entering the country.
It is the first time the junta leader has said he is willing to meet with the Nobel Prize laureate, who has been under house arrest for nearly 12 of the last 18 years. It is reported the general gets angry even at the mention of her name.
But the apparent concession by the governmentmight just be a strategic move to play for timeand appease international pressure, saidSein Win, Suu Kyi's cousin andprime minister of Burma's self-declared government-in-exile.
"On one side, they are agreeing to meet, but at night they are launching a terror campaign," WintoldCBC News Thursdayin an interview from Washington. "We have to be very cautious."
The UN's Gambari is due to give his report on his meetings with Suu Kyi and the junta leader to the Security Council on Friday, but has not given anyinformation to the public on the democracy activist's condition.
"We are still waiting to hear what he has to say,"Winsaid. "We are all ears."