France, Germany in joint appeal for Aung San Suu Kyi
During a joint news conference with German leader Merkel, French President Sarkozy said he had sought to speak by phone to the pro-democracy leader but the military government denied his request.Paris -- The leaders of France and Germany expressed grave concern Thursday for Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been put on trial by Myanmar's junta, and appealed to China and India to intervene on her behalf.
During a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had sought to speak by phone to the pro-democracy leader but the military government denied his request.
"We are asking our Chinese and Indian friends for help and to take into account the concern that we have for the Nobel Peace Prize winner ahead of a conviction that appears, unfortunately, unavoidable," said Sarkozy.
The 63-year-old opposition leader faces up to five years in jail on charges of breaching the terms of her house arrest after an eccentric American man swam to her lakeside house in Yangon and stayed the night.
"Madame Merkel and I are very concerned by the plight of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi," said Sarkozy after holding talks with Merkel at the Elysee palace.
"I would like to strongly support what has just been said," Merkel added.
"We are urging our partners in the region, in particular the Chinese and the Indians to help us so that Aung San Suu Kyi is well-treated, in full respect of human rights," she said.
"Germany is seeking the best way to come to her aid," Merkel added.
France has expressed strong concern over Suu Kyi's health, and last month French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy made a public appeal for her release, saying that a jail sentence would be "life-threatening" for her.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been in detention for 13 of the past 19 years since her National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in 1990 polls but was not allowed to take power.
A jail sentence could keep her locked up far beyond controversial elections promised by the ruling generals next year, which critics have dismissed as a sham because Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from standing.
Japan this month sent an envoy to Yangon who urged Myanmar's rulers to listen to the international community's concerns over Aung San Suu Kyi, but was told that the case was strictly a matter for the courts to decide.
EU governments have said they are considering tighter sanctions against Yangon, but many believe that pressuring China and India to put pressure on the junta is a more effective option.
The EU sanctions -- in place since 1996 -- include a travel ban and the freezing of assets of Myanmar's leaders and their relatives, as well as a ban on arms exports to the country.