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Myanmar dissident shuns deal to visit ailing husband

SHARE Myanmar dissident shuns deal to visit ailing husband

YANGON Myanmar -- Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be allowed to return to Myanmar if she left the country to visit her seriously ill British husband, the military government said Friday.

Earlier in the day, the Nobel Peace prize laureate turned away a representative of the military government when he came to discuss the matter, the government said. Suu Kyi could not be contacted for comment."Regretfully, she refused the government's offer and the discussion abruptly ended with the officer being (told) to leave her residence," a government statement said.

Suu Kyi's husband, Michael Aris, is suffering from advanced prostate cancer. He is seeking a visa to travel to Myanmar, also known as Burma, to see his wife.

The government claims to be sympathetic to his case, but his application was made two months ago and it has not ruled on it yet.

Suu Kyi, loathed by Myanmar's military government, has declined to leave the country for fear that she would not be allowed to return.

The government offer was the first time it had said it would allow Suu Kyi's return after such a trip. It did not say whether it had made such a commitment directly to Suu Kyi.

The junta considers Suu Kyi, an outspoken critic of its rule, a disruptive force and has frequently suggested that she leave.

"The government of Myanmar sees no difficulty for Ms. Suu Kyi in returning to Myanmar after her visit to see her husband, believing that the trip be of a purely humanitarian and family concern," the statement said, adding that it would be hard for a cancer patient to travel "halfway around the world to see his wife."

Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, would not be inclined to trust the government, which has jailed hundreds of its members. The military also failed to honor the results of a 1990 general election that was overwhelmingly won by Suu Kyi's party.

Aris has not been allowed to visit his wife since the 1995 Christmas season. The ban was apparently in retaliation for his carrying out a public statement from Suu Kyi.

The daughter of Myanmar's martyred independence hero, Gen. Aung San, Suu Kyi won the 1991 Nobel for her pro-democracy activities.