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UN chief hails Suu Kyi's compromise

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has praised Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for supporting democratisation by making a political compromise.

Mr Ban said after meeting Ms Suu Kyi that he admired her for agreeing to drop a demand that the wording of the oath of office be changed before her party members take their seats in parliament, which is expected on Wednesday.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy had sought to have the wording changed to "respect" the constitution from "safeguard" the constitution, but agreed on Monday that it could work on the issue after being sworn in. The party wants to amend elements of the 2008 charter it considers undemocratic.

"Politicians sometimes will continue to have differences of opinion, but real leaders demonstrate flexibility for the greater cause of people and for the country," said Mr Ban. "I'm sure she'll play a very constructive and active role as a parliamentarian."

President Thein Sein, prime minister in the former military government, came to power a year ago after a general election that left the military in firm control but signalled a desire for political reconciliation.

His government is keen to have Western nations drop the sanctions they imposed against the junta for its repressive policies. His programme gained steam after winning he endorsement of Ms Suu Kyi's democracy movement, which then nearly swept April 1 by-elections to make it the spearhead of a small opposition bloc in parliament.

Mr Ban, in a speech to parliament on Monday, urged Western nations to ease sanctions, saying such action would encourage further reform. He also called for a significant increase in development aid.

In that speech, believed to have been the first ever by a foreigner before Burma's parliament, he hailed the President and Ms Suu Kyi, saying they had "demonstrated the confidence and statesmanship needed to look beyond politics to the longer and larger interests of the nation". He said that in meetings with the two, he encouraged flexibility, wisdom and compromise for tackling issues on which they disagreed.

Ms Suu Kyi had been criticised by some sympathisers over her party's earlier decision to boycott parliament, and on Monday she said she took responsibility for failing to be aware of the wording problem earlier. She said her party has always worked flexibly, even as an extra-parliamentary opposition.

"We have always believed in flexibility throughout the years of our struggle," the Nobel peace laureate said after meeting Mr Ban. "That is the only way in which we can achieve our goal without violence."

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