. ( dpa ) - Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kye was permitted Friday to leave her home, where she is under house arrest, to meet a senior member of the military junta, according to witnesses.
It was her first meeting with the military leadership of the country since November 19, but the fourth since the regime smashed street protests led by the country's revered monkhood in September.
The junta's shadowy chief, General Than Shwe, has promised to enter into talks with Suu Kyi if she abandons her call for economic sanctions and drops her "confrontational" approach.
Suu Kyi was taken from her lakeside home on University Avenue to a government guest house where she met Aung Kyi, a retired general, now a labour minister and the official go-between with the opposition leader and the junta.
The military has ruled Myanmar with an iron fist since 1962, at the cost of severe economic underdevelopment.
The regime itself hopes to survive by selling natural resources such as oil and gas, according to foreign analysts. Yet the demonstrations against sharp rises in utility prices last year that preceded the monk protests must have signaled to the regime the need to ease the severe hardship of ordinary Myanmar citizens.
Few veteran Myanmar watchers can imagine General Than Shwe easily giving up power, even symbolically, to Suu Kyi, who is deeply distrusted by the junta.
Some analysts have concluded that the junta has relaxed Suu Kyi's house arrest since September mainly to placate foreign critics, particularly China, which props up the junta economically and militarily.
Suu Kyi has consistently maintained that her National League for Democracy's landslide victory in a 1990 election retains great political significance.
She has spent 12 of the past 17 years in detention and remains under house arrest in her home.