THE opposition is prepared to increase pressure on the junta to try to force it to engage in negotiations about political reform, according to diplomats and observers in the Burmese capital. Tin Oo, a senior leader of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), said the opposition was confident the ruling generals would eventually talk to them. 'The question is not whether, but when. If the regime leaves it too long everything will become much more difficult,' said Mr Tin Oo. The opposition hopes to meet the regime before the controversial constitutional convention restarts on November 28. They fear that if the junta's rigged convention is allowed to enshrine the military's domination of politics, and the exclusion of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi from high office, then subsequent talks may have little significance. This is likely to have been the strategy of the State Law and Order Restoration Council, as the junta styles itself, in the hope that the pro-democracy activist simply fades away as a political force. However, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi appears determined to ensure this will not happen. Although NLD officials consistently refuse to reveal their plans, the activist's recent actions have been tougher than the conciliatory tone she adopted after her release three months ago. The opposition leader recently made her first trip outside Rangoon since her release from six years of house arrest to visit a revered monk in the Karen state. She also talked to student leaders at her home and was re-elected secretary-general of her party. Mr Tin Oo and Kyi Maung - both of whom were released from lengthy spells in jail only in March - were elected deputy chairmen. Her speeches to the crowds that gather outside her home at the weekends have also sharpened. 'Some people still can't see the truth - that greed and clinging to power is bad . . . We want them to see the truth,' she told about 5,000 people a week ago. The 'them' referred to the junta, which revealed a more defiant tone than when she was first released, when she said she viewed the Army, founded by her father, independence hero Aung San, as part of the family. 'She's been baiting the regime . . . she is going to go on doing things that irritate them until she gets a response,' said one diplomat. One source expected her to continue applying pressure by travelling and speaking outside Rangoon, which possibly runs less risk of stirring up popular feeling than in the capital itself. In spite of what the military might have hoped, the activist remains enormously popular. The hardships people are experiencing having to make ends meet while battling against high inflation, appear to have fuelled more interest in pushing for a more efficient government. However, the junta could be forgiven for thinking that so far the 'Mexican standoff' over negotiations is favouring the regime. The economy is growing in a lopsided way with a host of hotel projects; the country is no longer an untouchable international pariah, and the visible opposition is focused outside the gates of a single dilapidated house on University Avenue, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's home. The junta may have an opportunity to deal with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi through the NLD's representatives at the convention, that is if the party decides to take part. The regime must be concerned that by grasping the olive branch proffered by the activist, it might risk unleashing pent-up popular protests. However, the ingredients for another tragedy in Burma are at hand if the generals fail to use this period of relative calm to talk to 'the Lady'.