Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Saturday she saw no reason for Western countries to lift sanctions against the military-dominated government, but the issue had to be discussed.
Myanmar, ruled by the military since a 1962 coup, held its first elections in two decades last year and authorities later released Suu Kyi from house arrest. But the military shows no sign of loosening its grip.
Suu Kyi's political party said on Tuesday it supported Western sanctions but wanted talks on whether to modify them, signalling a willingness to discuss a more flexible approach.
Suu Kyi, asked by Reuters at a party function on Saturday to elaborate, said sanctions had to be discussed.
"Whether or not to lift the sanctions is something to be decided after discussions," she said.
"At the present situation, I don't see any reason to lift the sanctions."
She did not elaborate on who should discuss the issue.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won the previous election in 1990 but was never allowed to govern, was officially disbanded for refusing to take part in last November's polls.
The vote was, as expected, swept by the main pro-military party and the generals have given no indication they will really relinquish power to new civilian rulers.
Suu Kyi has been excluded from politics since 1989, when she was first detained, a year after the military crushed a student-led uprising. She has no stake in the new army-dominated system and authorities have ignored her calls for dialogue.
But Suu Kyi has significant influence over Western countries' policies towards Myanmar and sanctions are the only real bargaining chip she has with the generals -- assuming they want the restrictions lifted.
China, Thailand, India and Singapore are already big investors in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Chinese companies poured in more than $8 billion last year, mostly in energy-related projects, according to official Myanmar data.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 12 Şubat 2011, 16:23