Burma junta 'must release Suu Kyi'

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Myanmar's ruling military junta must release detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi if it is serious about making the democratic reforms demanded by the international community, a UN envoy said Friday.

The envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, made the comments at the end of a two-day visit to Cambodia, shortly after Myanmar Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Thein Sein arrived in the country. The two did not cross paths and officials said the timing of the visits was coincidental.

Gambari also said he will return to Myanmar next month on his third mission to nudge the junta toward reconciliation talks with the opposition since the government's September crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

The United Nations has repeatedly called for the release of Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate under detention for 12 of the past 18 years, and for the junta to hold reconciliation talks with her opposition party.

"Now we are saying very clearly that if Aung San Suu Kyi is to become part of the solution and a partner in dialogue, then it is very essential that she should be released from detention," Gambari told reporters.

He urged the junta to halt its ongoing arrests of people who participated in the September protests.

"Any further arrests of people will run counter to the spirit of national reconciliation and ... to the efforts to promote dialogue between the opposition and the government," he said.

Amnesty International says several dissidents and Buddhist monks were arrested this month, despite assurances from the junta that arrests have stopped.