Friday, August 19, 2011

Suu Kyi invited to economic forum in Burma's capital

By Rachel Harvey BBC South East Asia Correspondent

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to join an economic forum in the capital Naypyidaw at the invitation of the government.

Local business leaders and representatives of all registered political parties will also attend.
It will be the first time Aung San Suu Kyi has visited the purpose-built capital since its construction in 2005.

The news comes amid signs that the nominally civilian government is trying to soften its image.

Meeting with president?

There are several firsts involved in this trip. It is the first time Aung San Suu Kyi will see her country's remote capital and the first time the government has invited her to take part in an official forum. It is also potentially the first opportunity for her to meet Burma's new president, former general, now civilian Thein Sein.

It is not clear what role Aung San Suu Kyi will play in the meeting, but her decision to go is a sign of compromise on her part. Having criticised the election process that brought the government to power, she could now be seen as offering tacit recognition by accepting its invitation.

This is the latest in a series of carefully calibrated moves designed to show the new administration reaching out to former foes. Aung San Suu Kyi was, last weekend, allowed to travel outside her home town of Rangoon on an overtly political trip.

There is a process underway, but where it will lead is still very much open to question.

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