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Sen. Jim Webb breaks the ice in Burma

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Did Webb make progress?

If Webb, who says he did not go to Burma as an official envoy of the Obama administration, made great progress in pushing for democratic reforms in return for an easing of US sanctions during either sit-down, he is so far refusing to claim it.

In his talks with Than Shwe, heavy US sanctions against Burma were not discussed, "though obviously it's the elephant in the bedroom," Webb told reporters in Bangkok. They also failed to discuss Burma's rumored nuclear ambitions, even though the threat was singled out by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a summit last month in Thailand.

Webb also has yet to share the junta's reaction to his request for Suu Kyi's release, a key goal of his trip. "I think we'll wait and see how their government reacts to this request," he said. "That's probably where we should leave it right now."

One tangible achievement

Webb's only tangible prize from the Burma trip was the release of Mr. Yettaw.

The junta is thought to have released Yettaw, an epileptic whose condition deteriorated in confinement, simply so he wouldn't die on their watch. His uninvited visit to Suu Kyi's home, a violation of Suu Kyi's house arrest, the junta claimed – extended her detainment by 18 months.

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