UN envoy seeks talks between Burma military and opposition

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The Independent Online

A UN envoy hoping to broker talks on political reform in military-ruled Myanmar might not get to talk with the top junta leader because of the regime's ongoing rift with the United Nations, diplomats said.

However, envoy Ibrahim Gambari did meet with two Cabinet ministers Sunday in the nation's remote capital, Naypyitaw, as part of efforts to spur talks between the ruling generals and their pro-democracy opponents.

It was his second visit since the junta violently suppressed anti-government demonstrations led by Buddhist monks in September.

Gambari met with Foreign Minister Nyan Win and Labor Minister Aung Kyi, who also was appointed last month as the government's liaison with detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the UN said. It said the envoy would also meet with other members of the junta and with Suu Kyi.

Gambari had extensive discussions with Aung Kyi on "an agreed upon framework for meaningful dialogue" between Suu Kyi and the military, the UN said in a statement. It gave no details of the framework, but said Gambari expected the initial steps would lead to an "acceleration of national reconciliation, the restoration of democracy and the full respect for human rights."

The statement was reminiscent of previous optimistic UN predictions which to date have produced no change in Myanmar.

On his first trip following the protests, Gambari met twice with Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has been held under house arrest in Yangon for 12 of the past 18 years. Following his visit, Aung Kyi, a retired major general reputed to be more flexible than others in the ruling circle, held brief talks with the opposition leader.

Yangon-based diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters, said Gambari would face problems in trying to meet with junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe because of the rift with the UN

The junta announced Saturday it planned to expel the top UN diplomat in the country, resident coordinator Charles Petrie. It accused Petrie of going beyond his duties by criticizing the generals' failure to meet the economic and humanitarian needs of the people, and by saying this was the cause of September's mass pro-democracy protests.

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