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 November 21, 2007

Gambari says UN can 'make a difference' in Myanmar 

Singapore - The United Nations can "make a difference" in Myanmar, where others have failed, with the support of East Asian countries and the international community, UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari said Wednesday. "The UN can succeed because we are doing what we do best ... dialogue and engagement," he told reporters on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit in Singapore.
"We can make a difference this time," he added. "It will work. They (Myanmar) want to work with the UN."
Past efforts, including sanctions from the European Union, have so far failed to prompt military-ruled Myanmar to fast-track the implementation of democratic reforms.

The threat of more restrictions from the United States and other countries have also been ignored by Yangon's military junta.
Gambari was supposed to brief leaders of the 16 countries attending the East Asian Summit about the progress of his negotiations with Myanmar, but his key address was abruptly scrapped after Myanmar objected.
He has instead held separate meetings with the leaders, including dialogues with Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein and Foreign Minister Nyan Win.
Gambari said his dialogues with Myanmar will "have timelines."
"We want democracy and a stable and prosperous Myanmar," he said. "We want to send the right kind of message."
He expressed hopes of soothing "things out before the end of the year" and stressed the need for support from Myanmar's neighbours in Asia and the international community.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who met Gambari on the sidelines of the summit, called on all East Asian countries, especially China, to "reinforce" Gambari's mission.
"We should look at any measure that would reinforce the work of Professor Gambari, particularly individuals like (former Indonesian foreign ministers) Ali Alatas and (former Philippine president) Fidel Ramos," he said.
"People like that can provide help for Gambari and that will be a good thing," he added. "If the foreign ministers from the East Asia region can provide support for him, then that would be a good thing."
Downer said Australia is aware that reforms could take time, but he is hopeful that progress will be made so that "at long last, we can help the ordinary people of Burma achieve their aspirations of making decisions about their own future."
The East Asian Summit is attended by leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar - as well as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, India and New Zealand.

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