Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner held under house arrest in Myanmar, left her home for the first time since May to meet with a UN diplomat, telling the official she needed more frequent medical attention.
Suu Kyi made the comments to UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari during an hour-long meeting at a government guesthouse on Saturday. Gambari held a number of meetings with top officials yesterday before his scheduled departure in the afternoon.
"Aung San Suu Kyi conveyed to Gambari that she is in good health but requires more regular medical visits," said the statement issued by the UN's office in Yangon.
It did not provide details of her health condition.
The pro-democracy leader looked gaunt in a rare photo released by the UN after her meeting with Gambari.
The photograph is believed to be the first image of Suu Kyi released to the outside world since her latest detention began in May 2003.
It shows the 61-year-old political prisoner staring at the camera without smiling, wearing a light purple silk traditional shirt and a violet silk floral-patterned formal sarong, known as a longyi. She is standing beside a dark-suited Gambari, with her hands clasped in front of her.
Suu Kyi's personal physician was quoted by state media last week as saying that he had not visited her since Aug. 24 because of political developments in the country.
Gambari, on a four-day visit to press the government to adopt human rights and political reforms, met with Suu Kyi previously in May -- the last time she was permitted to leave her home. The 61-year-old political prisoner has spent 11 of the last 17 years in detention, mostly under house arrest.
Suu Kyi told Gambari that she "welcomes continued engagement by the UN in hopes that it can be of help in addressing the many issues that have been raised by Gambari during his visit," the statement said.
This time, like the last, their meeting was conducted under tight security.
Suu Kyi was escorted from her home in a three-car convoy to the guesthouse Gambari was staying in, said officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Suu Kyi was driven in a black sedan with tinted windows, with the country's police chief in the passenger seat.
Gambari said he was "conveying a message" to Suu Kyi from the head of the junta, according to two diplomats who attended a briefing with the UN official earlier in the day.
The junta refuses to talk to Suu Kyi or her party.
The UN Security Council took the historic step of putting the country on its agenda in September, meaning that Myanmar's ruling junta is subject to greater UN scrutiny.
The US plans to introduce a resolution on Myanmar to the Security Council this year.
US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton has said that Washington will wait until after Gambari's visit before deciding on the contents of the resolution.