25 July 2011
The Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has met a minister from the six-month-old government for the first time.
The timing of the talks is perhaps more important than the content.
Click to hear the report:
The meeting comes a month after the government warned Aung San Suu Kyi to stop all political activities and cautioned against her travelling outside Rangoon. But Miss Suu Kyi recently went ahead with a trip to the town of Bagan and has continued to conduct interviews with international media and maintain close contact with foreign diplomats.
No agenda for the talks was made public. In fact the entire meeting was shrouded in secrecy until the very last minute. So it's not clear if this invitation to talks is a form of private reprimand or a recognition that the pro-democracy leader is still a force to be reckoned with.
But the mere fact that the government has renewed direct contact using a minister who performed the same role under the previous military leadership has raised hopes that perhaps the door to negotiation has been reopened.
It may also be relevant that the meeting is taking place immediately after a regional forum during which the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called for concrete and measurable steps towards reform in Burma.
The true test of Aung San Suu Kyi's talks with the new government will be to see if anything substantive emerges from them. Or will this meeting turn out to be another carefully choreographed piece of window dressing, much in the manner of the Burma of old.
Rachel Harvey, BBC
Click to hear the vocabulary:
- cautioned against
warned that it would be bad to do something
list of things to be discussed at a meeting
- shrouded in secrecy
with very little information about it made public
official statement of disapproval of someone's actions
- a force to be reckoned with
someone who has respect, power and authority and who should be taken seriously
- has raised hopes
has made people think that something positive is possible
- the door to negotiation
the opportunity for meaningful discussions
- concrete and measurable steps
actions which are clear to see that make real changes
- carefully choreographed piece of window dressing
an opportunity for propaganda which has been arranged so that on the surface it looks like progress is being made but in reality nothing is changing