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Myanmar UN Mediation Drive
UN Mediation Drive
September 30, 2007
Envoy meets detained opposition leader, yet to see junta bosses
Myanmar's government unexpectedly allowed the country's leading opposition figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, to leave house arrest briefly on Sunday and meet with a visiting U.N. envoy, but the diplomat failed to meet with the junta's commander.
A U.N. statement said Ibrahim Gambari, in Myanmar to persuade the government leadership to ease its crackdown against uprising seeking to end 45 years of military dictatorship, met Sunday with the acting prime minister, the deputy foreign minister and the ministers of information and culture.
The list did not include either junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe or his deputy Maung Aye, the two men who have the final say in all key decisions in the country.
But an Asian diplomat said that Gambari, who came back to Yangon on Sunday for talks with Suu Kyi, flew back to Naypyitaw late in the evening, raising hopes that he would still be able to meet the two key officials in the government. It was also possible that he was carrying a message from Suu Kyi to the leadership.
Thousands of troops locked down Myanmar's largest cities Sunday. Scores of people were arrested overnight, further weakening the flagging uprising that began Aug. 19 with protests against fuel price increases.
The demonstrations drew international attention after thousands of Buddhist monks joined the people in venting anger at decades of brutal military rule. At the height of the protests, some 70,000 people turned out, but were crushed on Wednesday and Thursday when government troops opened fire into the crowds.
The government says 10 people were killed but independent sources say the number is far higher.
Gambari's efforts began on Saturday when he came from Singapore to Yangon and was immediately flown to Naypyitaw. After his meetings Sunday, he returned to Yangon and was whisked to the State Guest House to meet Suu Kyi, who was brought out of house arrest to see him in what appeared to be an unexpected concession by the junta.
Gambari and Suu Kyi met for over an hour, the U.N. statement said, but gave no details.
"We want Mr. Gambari to stay here long enough to get under way a genuine process of national reconciliation," Britain's ambassador Mark Canning said. "He should be given as much time as that takes. That will require access to senior levels of government as well as a range of political actors."

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