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09RANGOON643 2009-09-23 09:34:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rangoon
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1. (C) The GOB has recently conveyed through official
channels and via at least one businessman (septel) its desire
for better relations with the U.S.. According to an Embassy
contact, many in the private sector here think Washington is
preparing to respond positively, particularly regarding
sanctions. Tour operator Brett Melzer (protect) told Embassy
officers September 21 that many well-connected Burmese
business leaders are extremely optimistic the U.S. will lift
economic sanctions in the near term.

2. (C) Melzer told us many in the business community,
including those with close ties to Nay Pyi Taw, are convinced
the U.S. and Burma have discussed a deal in which the GOB
will allow ASSK to live under "open" house arrest where she
can receive visitors and communicate freely but not leave her
home. In return, the U.S. will end economic sanctions (no
specifics mentioned) against Burma. Melzer told us there are
two versions of this rumor. Either a deal has already been
struck at the "highest" levels and will be announced soon, or
PM Thein Sein will pitch -- and the U.S. will accept -- the
deal during the UN General Assembly.

3. (C) Melzer reports that business leaders are more upbeat
than they have been in the last 12 years. He added that the
individuals citing this alleged "deal" are rational, careful,
and not prone to misplaced optimism. Several private sector
businesspeople are actively investing in ventures, including
in the telecom sector, which only make financial sense if
sanctions are soon eased. Melzer described his contacts as
well-connected to senior Burmese leaders and assessed that
their optimism could only stem from being told by GOB
officials that change is imminent.