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UN envoy leaves Myanmar making little progress


August 25, 2008

UN envoy leaves Myanmar making little progress
UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari left Burma on Saturday after six days in the country where he achieved nothing evident, and failed even to see opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, German news agency DPA reported.

Gambari, who added a sixth day to his five-day trip in an effort to meet with the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Mrs Suu Kyi, gave no reason why they didn't meet.

NLD spokesman U Nyan Win said that the meeting depended on three parties, the UN, the Burmese government and Suu Kyi herself, but he did not elaborate.

"Some people said it only depended on Aung San Suu Kyi but that is not true," he said in a telephone interview.

State-run television on Saturday evening said it was Suu Kyo who refused twice to meet Gambari after they arranged for the UN envoy to meet with her.

Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest in her family's Rangoon home for the past five years, first refused to meet Gambari Wednesday morning and Gambari wrote her a personal letter that state-run TV said was sent to her by "a responsible person" but Suu Kyi refused to accept the letter. Later they placed the letter on the wall around her compound.

Gambari again tried to meet with Suu Kyi on Friday and again she refused, the state-run media mouthpiece stated.

State media aside, Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest in her family's Rangoon home for the past five years, refused to get in a government car to meet Gambari on Wednesday and did not come out to greet the UN special envoy's car Friday morning when it parked in front of her compound for an hour.

Gambari did meet with Prime Minister Thein Sein for a second time Saturday but he did not get to see junta leader General Than Shwe. Gambari was scheduled to talk with reporters at the airport before he departed but those plans were canceled with no explanation.

Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since May 2003, being kept in near-isolation by the ruling junta, which recently extended her imprisonment, adding another six months to a year to it.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is hoping to visit Burma in the last week of December if conditions are appropriate to discuss the country's political problems, UN sources said.

Ban was last in Burma in May when he made an emergency visit to pressure the country's junta to allow entry of international aid and relief workers in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which left about 140,000 people dead or missing.

Ban was criticized at the time for concentrating on the aid and neglecting Burma's long-simmering political caldron and the junta's refusal to free Suu Kyi and other political prisoners or to introduce genuine political reforms.

This week's visit is Gambari's fourth since last year to Burma, where he has been handed a mandate by the United Nations to deal with the country's military regime in addressing international concerns about human rights violations, slow-paced political reforms and the ongoing detentions of political prisoners.

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