Sun, Nov 12, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Leading UN official meets with Aung San Suu Kyi

AFP , YANGON

Top UN official Ibrahim Gambari, on a four-day visit to press military-run Myanmar for democratic reform, met detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday.

"They met at the state guest house for about one hour," an information ministry source said.

It was their second meeting this year following Gambari's previous visit to Myanmar in May, and allowed the Nobel peace laureate to leave her house for the first time since that meeting.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest in Yangon for most of the past 17 years, was accompanied by national police chief Brigadier General Khin Yee on her way to and from the state guest house, the source said.

Apart from her live-in maid, the leader of opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) is allowed no contact with the outside world, except for once-a-month visits from her doctor.

Ahead of the meeting, Gambari, an emissary of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, flew to Myanmar's new administrative capital, Nay Pyi Taw, some 350km north of Yangon, and held talks with junta leader Than Shwe, a senior information ministry official said.

The UN envoy also met with seven senior NLD members at the UN Development Program's office in Yangon, NLD sources said.

When the junta let Gambari see the pro-democracy leader in May, the Nigerian diplomat became the only foreigner allowed to see her in more than two years, raising hopes that the military government might finally set her free.

But just a week after the surprise meeting, the junta extended her house arrest for another year.

Gambari's four-day visit, which ends today, comes at a critical time for the junta, as the UN Security Council discussed the situation in Myanmar in September despite strong opposition from China, an ally of the regime.

The US, a vocal critic of Myanmar, is pressing for a Security Council resolution on its human rights abuses and lack of reforms.

US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, who lobbied hard to put Myanmar on the council's agenda in September, said the resolution would likely come after Gambari's visit.

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