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Myanmar continues monk arrests as junta pressed for unconditional talks with Suu Kyi

[JURIST] Myanmar military leaders increased pressure on opponents [AP report] Sunday, detaining at least 135 Buddhist monks in connection with weapons allegedly seized from monasteries. The ruling junta claims raids have uncovered guns, knives and ammunition and insists they will punish all violators of the law. The crackdown comes on the heels of a sharp reduction in security in the capital Yangon. Streets were reported to be unusually quiet this weekend, more than a week after Myanmar security forces opened fire on protesters [JURIST report] demonstrating against the government.

Junta leader Senior General Than Shwe [BBC profile] has meanwhile offered to speak with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile]. It is believed unlikely Suu Kyi will accept Shwe's conditions of abandoning support for sanctions and "confrontation," but it is nonetheless the first time junta leadership has offered direct talks. Malaysia Sunday urged the military regime to hold unconditional talks with Suu Kyi before the world pushes harder for political change. Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar warned that the United States would push for UN sanctions against Myanmar if it fails to move toward democracy. China and Russia oppose any external sanctions. On Friday the UN special envoy to Myanmar noted what he characterized as continuing and disturbing reports of abuses [JURIST report] being committed by security and non-uninformed elements in the country at a special meeting of the UN Security Council. Reuters has more.

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