YANGON - Myanmar's detained opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been insincere and dishonest in her offer to meet the country's military ruler and push for the lifting of Western sanctions, state media said on Wednesday.
Suu Kyi, who is held under house arrest, had tried to harm the government's image and her behaviour had been highly questionable, said a commentary carried in three state-run newspapers, which serve as mouthpieces for the reclusive regime.
The 64-year-old Nobel peace laureate asked to meet junta leader Senior General Than Shwe in a letter dated November 11, saying she wanted to work with his government in the interests of the country.
In a similar letter on September 25 she stated her desire to work with Western countries and the junta to bring about the lifting of sanctions, which critics say have been largely ineffective because of the regime's trade with China and India.
Her letters suggest her dishonesty, and are designed to tarnish the image of the ruling government, putting all the blame on the government, said a commentary in the New Light of Myanmar.
This was the first response by the regime to Suu Kyi's requests and appeared to criticise the National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader for leaking one of the letters to the media.
The two letters reflect her dishonesty. She should have approached the government in an honest way in order to work out the stalemate, it said.
Myanmar's military, which has ruled the country for almost 50 years and is shunned by the West because of its rights record, plans to hold multi-party elections in 2010.
In the last letter, Suu Kyi expressed thanks to the regime for allowing her to meet U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the highest-ranking U.S. diplomat to visit Myanmar in 14 years, in November.
Despite the criticism, on Wednesday Suu Kyi was allowed to meet a government minister assigned as a go-between for the regime, suggesting lines of communication were still open.
A Home Ministry official said she held talks for 50 minutes at a state guesthouse in Yangon with Labour Minister Aung Kyi, whom she has met twice since late September.
It is unlikely Suu Kyi will get to meet Than Shwe. The 76-year-old strongman has been head of the junta for 17 years and plans to retire after the elections, but only, analysts say, after he has installed a favourable replacement.
Suu Kyi, the daughter of late independence hero Aung San, is seen as the biggest threat to the junta's grip on power and has been under detention of some form for 14 of the past 20 years.
She is appealing against a conviction for breaching an internal security law by allowing an American intruder to stay for two nights at her lakeside home.
The verdict was widely seen as an attempt to keep her sidelined in the run-up to the former Burma's first election in two decades. The NLD scored a landslide victory in the 1990 election that the military refused to recognise.
(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Alan Raybould)