YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been holding reconciliation talks with Myanmar's ruling military, secretly met with the junta leader last week, diplomats said Wednesday.

Suu Kyi met on Jan. 22 with Senior Gen. Than Shwe, the chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, as the ruling junta calls itself, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

One of their very few meetings and the first this year, it came amid fears among diplomats that the U.N.-backed reconciliation process had stalled. Than Shwe has final say in policy matters in Myanmar.

A resident near Suu Kyi's home in Yangon, where the opposition leader has been under house arrest since September 2000, said Suu Kyi was driven out in a military car on Jan. 22 and returned about two hours later. Neither the military nor officials from Suu Kyi's party confirmed the meeting took place.

The military and the opposition have been holding closed-door talks since October 2000 to end the political deadlock over the junta's refusal to cede power to Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. The party won general elections in 1990, but the junta refused to recognize the results.

Neither side has divulged the content of the talks.

Myanmar's reconciliation process was arranged through mediation by the U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail, who is to visit Myanmar next week.