Senator Jim Webb of Virginia held a rare meeting on Saturday in Myanmar with the leader of the ruling junta, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, and emerged with a promise to free a detained American, officials said, at a time when the United States has said it is reassessing its hard line toward Myanmar’s repressive military government.
The senator’s office said he had secured the release of the American, John Yettaw, who was sentenced to prison on Tuesday after intruding into the home of the pro-democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
In another gesture by the government, Mr. Webb, a Democrat, was allowed to meet with Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sentenced at the same trial to 18 months of added house arrest, arousing international condemnation. She has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest.
Most visiting foreign officials are denied permission to meet her, most recently United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in July.
Mr. Yettaw will be officially deported and will join Mr. Webb on a military aircraft to Bangkok on Sunday, according to the statement by the senator’s office.
I love Jim Webb. I hope he runs for President one day. Decorated Vietnam War vet, delivered the Democratic response to President Bush’s State of the Union address, chairs a senate sub-committee on East Asian and Pacific affairs, speaks fluent Vietnamese, served under President Reagan but is a newly declared Democrat, since Bush.