UN Mediation: Envoy meets junta leader, Suu Kyi
After days of delays, Myanmar's reclusive junta leader, Senior Gen.
Than Shwe, finally granted an audience Tuesday to a U.N. envoy hoping
to broker an end to Myanmar's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
The government later permitted a second encounter between the diplomat
and Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained Nobel laureate who has come to
symbolize the yearning for democracy in Myanmar.
Ibrahim Gambari, the U.N.'s special envoy, met Than Shwe in the junta's
remote new capital, Naypyitaw, a U.N. statement said. It said he then
flew to Yangon and talked to Suu Kyi.
The meeting with Than Shwe was expected but the one with Suu Kyi came
as a surprise, raising hopes that Gambari's shuttle diplomacy was
The U.N. has said that Gambari's mission is to persuade the generals —
who have provoked worldwide revulsion with last month's crackdown — to
take the people's demand for democracy seriously.
Dissident groups say up to 200 protesters were slain and 6,000 detained
in the junta's crackdown, compared to the regime's report of 10 deaths.
While the envoy tried to broker peace, the junta scaled back the curfew
from seven hours to six and security forces lightened their presence in
Yangon, the country's main city.
Kept off the streets, many residents launched a new form of protest
Monday evening by switching off their lights and turning off television
sets from 8 p.m.- 8:15 p.m. during the nightly government newscast.
It was unclear how many homes heeded calls for what activists are calling a "silent protest" against the junta.
The U.N. statement said Gambari's meeting with Than Shwe and his
deputies "to discuss the current situation in Myanmar" lasted more than
an hour. It said Gambari also met Suu Kyi for the second time during
his four-day mission but gave no other details.
Gambari later went to Singapore en route to New York. Diplomats and
officials said he will brief U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the
U.N. Security Council on Friday.
Britain's deputy ambassador to the U.N., Karen Pierce, said any
Security Council action will depend on the results of Gambari's trip:
"We need to see what sort of territory we're in."
Foreign governments have been urging the junta to free the detainees,
who include thousands of Buddhist monks who led last month's protests.
In addition, freeing Suu Kyi from her long years of house arrest has
been one of the main goals of all U.N. envoys and Myanmar's
The meeting between Gambari and Than Shwe also included the junta No. 2
leader Deputy Senior Gen. Maung Aye, as well as two other top generals
in the ruling coterie.
In New York on Monday, Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win denounced
foreign interference, which he blamed for the violence last month.
"Recent events make clear that there are elements within and outside
the country who wish to derail the ongoing process (toward democracy)
so that they can take advantage of the chaos that would follow," Nyan
Win told the U.N. General Assembly.
He said security forces acted with restraint for a month but had to
"take action to restore the situation." Nyan Win made no reference to
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