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February 1, 2009

UN envoy’s visit offers little hope for Myanmar
United Nations envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari arrived in the army-ruled former Myanmar on Saturday in another bid to coax the junta and detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi toward talks on political reform.

Hopes of success are slim after six previous visits that yielded no results.

It is not known who he will meet, especially since on his last visit in August last year he was snubbed by Suu Kyi, who refused to see him despite being held incommunicado under house arrest since May 2003.

Analysts believe Suu Kyi's snub of Gambari was to show displeasure at the U.N.'s apparent acceptance of the planned 2010 elections as the basis for future political reform, rather than the 1990 election which she won.

Gambari has also frequently been denied access to junta supremo Than Shwe, the aging general who is known to loathe Suu Kyi so much he once stormed out of a meeting with a foreign diplomat when the envoy mentioned her name.

"He looks forward to meaningful discussions with all concerned on all the points raised during his last visit," a UN statement said.

A spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) said he thought the Nobel laureate would be willing to meet Gambari this time round.

The NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990 only to be denied power by the military, which has run the country since a 1962 coup. It believes the results of that election must be the basis for any future political settlement.

New elections are scheduled for 2010 under the final stages of a seven-step "roadmap to democracy" drawn up by the generals. A new constitution guaranteeing the army control of the country was passed in a heavily criticized referendum last year.

The NLD have dismissed the constitution as a charade and said they will have nothing to do with the elections.

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