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Myanmar reverses on Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi
Suu Kyi's pro-democracy efforts earned her the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

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Aung San Suu Kyi

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Myanmar has apparently backed down from indications that it would release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi before May 17 as part of the country's efforts to move toward democracy.

Suu Kyi has been detained by Myanmar officials for nearly a year, and earlier Saturday Foreign Minister U Win Aung said the government would release the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The foreign minister made the comment to reporters at the Bangkok airport ahead of a meeting with his Thai counterpart. But after the meeting, he backed away from his earlier comments.

Myanmar's military government has said previously that Suu Kyi will be freed, but it has refused to specify when.

Last week, Myanmar -- formerly Burma -- announced it would hold a national convention to draft a constitution on May 17 as part of its road map to democracy.

Myanmar's military has ruled the country since 1962. The government remains largely isolated with the United States, the European Union and Japan either imposing sanctions or withholding aid.

Last month, Myanmar's appointed prime minister, Gen. Khin Nyunt, met with U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail, on a mission to bring Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy and the regime closer to an agreement on restoring democracy.

The real head of government, however, is Gen. Than Shwe, who does not speak in public.

Suu Kyi, whose pro-democracy efforts in her country earned her the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, was detained in May 2003.

She was held for months in an undisclosed location after a clash between her supporters and a pro-government group.

After undergoing a medical operation in October, she was placed under virtual house arrest.

CNN Producer Narunart Prapanya in Bangkok and Time Magazine Reporter Robert Horn in Rangoon contributed to this report.

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