THE battle-lines are beginning to harden in Burma, only three weeks after Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest that brought with it such high hopes for national reconciliation. Adopting a harder tone than before, the opposition leader has questioned the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) 'constructive engagement' policy towards Rangoon, which is one of the military junta's most-cherished achievements, while Burmese Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw, in Brunei for the ASEAN conference, reiterated that Aung San Suu Kyi's marriage to British academic Michael Aris is likely to be used to ban her from participating in politics. Yet it was always inevitable that the euphoria promoted by her release from house arrest would fade and, despite the latest verbal sparring, there remains hope dialogue can be given a chance. Although slightly less than before, Aung San Suu Kyi remains remarkably forgiving towards a junta that deprived her of six years' freedom and, before that, killed hundreds of her supporters in a 1988 military crackdown. The problem lies with the Government, which has so far ignored her pleas for dialogue and now restated its plan to write a clause into Burma's new constitution barring anyone married to a foreigner from participating in politics. While that intention has been known for several years, its reiteration at what should be a time for conciliatory gestures suggests that the junta feels sufficiently confident to continue ignoring all opposition. It also makes a mockery of the constitutional drafting process to have a provision effectively designed to exclude one person. That is why ASEAN leaders would do well to heed Aung San Suu Kyi's warning on the dangers of being too enthusiastic about 'constructive engagement'. Although that policy probably contributed to winning her release, any premature relaxation of international pressure on Burma will only encourage its military regime to believe that they can continue to avoid opening a dialogue with opposition leaders.