YANGON - Myanmar's detained opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, expressed hope on Monday that U.S. engagement with the county's military rulers could spur democratic reforms, her lawyer said.
In rare praise for the regime that has kept her in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, Suu Kyi thanked the junta for allowing her to see Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. official for East Asia.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner was allowed to meet for almost three hours on Monday with her lawyers, who agreed to submit an appeal with the Supreme Court against her conviction in August for a security breach while under house arrest.
She told us she was quite satisfied with Mr. Campbell's visit ... She said he's the sort of person we can work with, lawyer Nyan Win told reporters.
She also expressed her thanks to the regime for their assistance during Campbell's visit.
The two-day visit by the U.S. delegation was the first of its kind in 14 years and came as part of Washington's new policy of direct engagement with the generals.
Campbell, deputy secretary of state, met Suu Kyi and senior government ministers during his two-day visit but was snubbed by Senior General Than Shwe, the junta supremo.
On his return from Myanmar on Thursday, Deputy Assistant Secretary Scot Marciel said the main aim of the visit had been to encourage dialogue within Myanmar, between the junta, ethnic groups and opposition parties.
He made few comments about next year's widely dismissed elections but said it would be very hard for the polls to be credible without the involvement of Suu Kyi.
Analysts said the policy shift was as much about U.S. fears over China's influence in the region as the democratic process in Myanmar.
Suu Kyi, who was sentenced to a further 18 months in detention for allowing an American intruder to stay at her Yangon home for two days, was allowed by the junta to meet Westerm envoys last month to discuss sanctions on the country.
Marciel said it was neither appropriate nor wise to lift sanctions at this point even though they had failed, but said the embargoes would be reviewed if the country showed progress in initiating democratic reform.
The former British colony has been ruled by various military juntas since a 1962 coup. The result of an election in 1990, won by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, was ignored by the generals, who jailed hundreds of opponents and tightened their grip on power.
Critics say the military has learned from the 1990 polls and has no plans to relinquish power. They say the junta wants to make the process appear legitimate and credible and has drafted a constitution that will ensure it still calls the shots.
(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Alan Raybould)