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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Suu Kyi Set For Talks With Junta

YANGON, Myanmar/KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Myanmar's ruling junta and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will start substantive talks on the country's political future "very, very soon," the United Nations envoy to the country said Tuesday.

Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail announced the breakthrough after a visit to Yangon, where he met Suu Kyi, senior members of the junta and leaders of major ethnic minority groups.

"There is a common effort to try to discuss the necessary political and constitutional issues," Razali said. He also said the discussions would begin before his next trip to Myanmar, due within a couple of months.

Suu Kyi and the junta began confidential talks in October 2000 -- a development that diplomats say Razali played a key role in brokering -- but until now they have never moved beyond "confidence-building" to address substantive issues.

After strong international pressure, Suu Kyi was released from 19 months of house arrest in May, but since then she has had no meetings with senior members of the junta. She has repeatedly called for meaningful talks to begin as soon as possible.

On his return from Yangon, Razali also provided a written statement that suggested Suu Kyi was prepared to make further concessions in her stance toward the junta.

"Mr. Razali was informed by Aung San Suu Kyi that as a consequence of her recent travels, she was willing to cooperate with the government in ways that directly benefit all the peoples of Myanmar and are conducive to the evolution of a democratic state," the statement said.

Suu Kyi for years refused to cooperate with the military government, a stance she has gradually shifted.