U.S. senator also sought Suu Kyi's release

Aug. 16, 2009 at 11:30 PM
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BANGKOK, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. James Webb, D-Va., says he sought the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as well as that of a detained American during his Myanmar trip.

Webb -- who secured the freedom of John Yettaw, 54, during his weekend trip to Myanmar -- told a news conference in Bangkok he was allowed to meet 64-year-old Suu Kyi, who was sentenced last week to another 18 months under house arrest for allegedly violating her detention rules by letting Yettaw into her home.

"They granted two of those three requests in the meetings. They have not yet communicated on the third," Webb said, the Washington Post reported, adding the senator was careful not to say he was optimistic about Suu Kyi's release.

"I am hopeful that as the months go forward, they will take a look at it," he said.

Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest for pro-democracy activities in the country formerly called Burma. Yettaw, a Vietnam War veteran who suffers from epilepsy, was sentenced to seven years in jail for swimming across a lake and entering Suu Kyi's house.

The Post said Webb, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was the most senior U.S. official to visit Myanmar in more than two decades.

Separately, China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the state-run Myanmar Radio and Television as saying the decision to deport Yettaw was based on the importance of bilateral relations with the United States. It said Myanmar's decision also took Yettaw's health into account.

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