Singapore urges Myanmar junta for accord with opposition

Budapest, (DPA) Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Tuesday urged Myanmar’s military junta to reach an agreement that would allow the opposition to take part in governing the troubled country.

“The army and other groups need to reach an agreement that will allow the opposition to take part in the government,” MTI news agency quoted him as saying following a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany in Budapest.

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Myanmar’s junta last week said it was willing to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, although it has conditioned talks on her relinquishing support for international sanctions.

Under pressure from UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, Myanmar’s ruling junta appointed Deputy Minister for Labour Aung Kyi to hold talks with Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of Aung San, independence hero and founder of the Myanmar army, has been under house arrest in Yangon since May 2003.

Singapore is one of Myanmar’s largest foreign investors and trade between the nations reached around 680 million dollars last year.

Many believe that Myanmar’s generals keep their money in Singapore, but Lee denied that Singaporean banks were illegally handling the junta’s money.

Gyurcsany said he supported a tightening of sanctions against Myanmar and condemned the crackdown on protests that began in reaction to a hike in fuel prices and then escalated under the leadership of Buddhist monks.

The government claims that only 10 people died in the crackdown, and of the estimated 2,700 people arrested over the past ten days, including 533 monks, about 1,600 have already been released, including some 400 monks.

Anti-junta activists and private observers in Yangon estimate the death toll was much higher.