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March 1, 2008

Meeting of 14 nations to help UN envoy’s effort

Indonesia may host a meeting of a group of 14 nations assisting U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in his efforts to spur changes in Myanmar, an official was quoted by Kyodo news agency as saying Friday.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kristiarto Legowo earlier declined to confirm whether the meeting will take place in Indonesia. However, when asked whether U.\N special envoy on Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari raised a proposal for the meeting to be held in Jakarta during his visit last week to Indonesia, Legowo said, "It was touched on, but it's still at a very early stage."

"We need to discuss it further, for example about the modalities. So, we want to hear more details," he told a small group of reporters at his office.

The idea came up following suggestions from Myanmar advocates in the United States that Ban should convene the next meetings of the group in such Asian capitals as Jakarta or Beijing, thus making regional countries more committed and involved in U.N.-led mediation efforts.

The Group of Friends of the Secretary General on Myanmar is a consultative forum for developing a shared approach in support of the implementation of the secretary general's good offices mandate for Myanmar.

Consisting of Australia, Indonesia, Russia, the United States, China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, France, Norway, Thailand, India, Portugal and Britain, the group met in an informal format in the U.N. headquarters in New York in December and early this month.

Gambari will visit Myanmar next week, during which he will try to meet with junta chief Senior Gen. Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Last week in Jakarta, Gambari said he intends to discuss with Myanmar's ruling generals its decision to bar opposition leader Suu Kyi from multiparty elections to be held in 2010.

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