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July 16, 2008

Myanmar: Junta invites UN envoy
Myanmar is inviting a United Nations special envoy to visit in mid-August, for talks that are expected to focus on international efforts to bring political reforms to the Southeast Asian nation, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The invitation by Myanmar's ambassador, Kyaw Tint Swe, was extended to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special representative for Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, in a letter to Vietnam's ambassador, Le Luong Minh, whose nation holds the Security Council's rotating presidency this month.

Myanmar, where 138,000 were left dead or missing after Cyclone Nargis struck in early May, also is on council's agenda this month.

In the letter, which Ban's office made public Tuesday, Swe requested that Gambari "continue the good offices role of the secretary-general" that he has been "implementing very ably."

In March, Gambari said he was disappointed that his five-day visit to Myanmar that month hadn't produced "any immediate tangible outcome."

Weeks after the cyclone hit, Ban traveled to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, to press the military junta leader, Senior General Than Shwe, to open up access for foreign aid workers and relief supplies.

The junta also pushed through a vote on a new constitution that critics say consolidated its grip on power and extended the house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the weeks after the cyclone's devastation.

The military, which has held power since 1962, has been widely condemned for suppressing democracy and committing human rights abuses. Suu Kyi has spent more than a dozen of the last 19 years in detention.

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