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Suu Kyi hopes for Myanmar crisis resolution

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Aung San Suu Kyi has reaffirmed her support for Myanmar's reformist president and says that she hopes for a swift resolution to a dispute that has delayed her debut in the country's parliament.

The opposition leader and other newly elected members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party cancelled plans to attend a new session of the legislature over a dispute regarding the oath of office.

NLD politicians refused to swear to "safeguard" the constitution, which was was created by the army and which the party has opposed.

"We hope the present problem will be smoothed over without too much difficulty before too long," Suu Kyi said at a press conference with Giulio Terzi, Italian foreign minister, in Yangon on Thursday.

She pledged to continue to try and work "in collaboration with the government particularly because we believe that President U Thein Sein is sincere in his reform efforts".

U is a term of respect in Myanmar.

Array of reforms

Thein Sein, a former army general, has implemented an array of changes since coming to power last year, including allowing the NLD to operate more freely, and the freeing of political prisoners.

In her remarks, Aung San Suu Kyi also expressed hope that her party would be able to serve Myanmar "not just outside the parliament as we have been doing for the last 20-odd years, but also from within the national assembly".

"With regard to the obstacles in the way of our taking our places in the national assembly, we would like to think that these are purely technical ones," she said.

"We would not like to expand them to the point that they become a political issue."

The NLD's decision not to attend the parliamentary session on Monday was seen as a sign of friction with the government.

It came on the same day as the European Union suspended most of its sanctions against Myanmar, to reward political reforms.

The party had asked that the swearing-in oath be changed from having members of parliament pledging to "safeguard" the constitution to having them pledge to "respect" it.

A quarter of the seats in the parliament are currently reserved for unelected military officials, under the current constitution.

'Public interest'

Thein Sein said on Monday the oath could be revised "if it serves the public's interest".

Aung San Suu Kyi won a parliamentary seat in April 1 by-elections for the first time since a landslide NLD victory in 1990 elections was annulled.

The NLD won 43 out of a total 44 seats up for grabs during the by-elections.

In addition to the EU, Canada has also suspended sanctions this week, and Japan has waived $3.7bn of Myanmar's debt.

Terzi, the Italian foreign minister, said that he had met Thein Sein, and that the president was "fully aware" that sanctions were only suspended for a year, and had not been lifted entirely.

He said that the EU wanted to be sure the Southeast Asian nation's reforms "do not stop or even slow down".

The US has ruled out an immediate end to its main sanctions on Myanmar.


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