Myanmar president picks Suu Kyi friend as adviser

[Photo: Picture taken on December 2, 2010 shows U Myin playing the guitar during the ceremony to mark the World AIDS Day celebration at the National League for Democracy (NLD) party headquarters in Yangon.]

YANGON - A friend of Aung San Suu Kyi has been appointed as an adviser to Myanmar's president, he told AFP on Friday, vowing to aid "co-operation" between the democracy icon and the government.

U Myint, one of nine experts in economics, politics and law appointed earlier this month, opposes sanctions on the military-dominated country in line with the views of its rulers.

The 73-year-old believes that Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi still has a "beneficial" role to play in the country's economy, but said she should perform that role outside the political sphere.

He said he would not become a "mediator" in talks between Suu Kyi and the government, but added: "There could be a way for them to work together on the economy. I will try for their co-operation in this area."

U Myint appeared at a ceremony held by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy in December.

Supporters of trade and financial sanctions say they are the only way to pressure the military rulers of Myanmar, where there are about 2,200 political prisoners.

But a controversial November election - which led a new nominally-civilian government to take power last month - and Suu Kyi's subsequent release from house arrest have reignited a debate about the measures.

Opposition leader Suu Kyi, whose stance on sanctions had appeared to soften, said last month that measures against the junta should remain until "something has changed here", in an interview with a German newspaper.