U.S. Senator Jim Webb says the government of Burma has denied reports that it is trying to acquire nuclear technology.
Speaking to reporters in Bangkok Monday, Senator Webb said he did not raise the issue when he met with Burma's military leader General Than Shwe on Saturday. However, he said that the Burmese government denied having a nuclear program.
Earlier this month, Australian researchers said interviews with defectors from Burma indicated that the government has a secret nuclear program, allegedly aided by North Korea.
Webb was also allowed to meet with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Sunday and told reporters that she might not oppose easing sanctions on Burma.
Webb said Sunday in Bangkok that Washington must find new ways to bring change to Burma. He criticized U.S. and EU sanctions on Burma, calling them "major impediments" to the Burmese people's economic and political growth.
Webb also said Sunday that he asked Than Shwe to free Aung San Suu Kyi and let her participate in elections next year. The senator arrived in the Thai capital on a flight from Burma with American John Yettaw.
Before leaving Burma, Webb thanked its government for releasing Yettaw, who has been in poor health. Yettaw was admitted to a hospital in Bangkok upon arrival.
Burmese authorities had sentenced him earlier this month to seven years in prison for swimming across a lake to Aung San Suu Kyi's home. Yettaw said he believed he was protecting her from attack.
Webb's mission to Burma upset some Burmese dissidents who said it gave the government a boost without requiring it to free Aung San Suu Kyi or two female aides detained with her.
A Burmese court extended Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest this past week by 18 months for alleged violations of security laws in connection with Yettaw's visit. She has spent 14 of the past 20 years in some form of detention.