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Suu Kyi brands detention 'illegal'

Burma's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has revealed that her release from seven years of detention is not a sign that the country's military regime is becoming moderate.

Ms Suu Kyi called her detention "illegal" and said there was no reason for her release other than that the period of her house arrest had ended.

"I don't think you can look at it like that," she said when asked whether her freedom signalled a change from the military's harsh, decades-long rule of the south-east Asian nation.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, set free from her lakeside residence last Saturday, has made it clear she plans to pursue her goal of a democratic Burma but has been careful not to verbally challenge the junta or call for its overthrow.

She has called for face-to-face talks with junta leader General Than Shwe to reach national reconciliation.

Ms Suu Kyi has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years but has remained the dominant figure of Burma's battered pro-democracy movement. More than 2,200 political prisoners remain behind bars.

A week before her release, a military-backed political party swept the country's first elections in 20 years amid widespread accusations that the balloting was rigged. Final results have yet to be announced, but some military candidates grabbed 90% and more of the votes in their constituencies.

"My detention had come to an end and there were no immediate means of extending it," Ms Suu Kyi said in the interview in her small, sparse office, decorated with little beyond a vase of flowers and a black and white photograph of her late father, Aung San, who helped lead colonial Burma to independence from Britain. .

Since Saturday, the generals and their long-time arch rival have had no contact, she said. "I haven't seen any sign of the junta at all since I came out. They haven't made any move to let us know what they feel about the situation."

She added, though, that her goals would not change: "I had better go on living until I see a democratic Burma."

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