Mon, Feb 02, 2009 - Page 4 News List

UN envoy meets junta minister


The UN’s top envoy to Myanmar yesterday met the minister tasked with liaising with detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, an official said, in the latest talks aimed at nudging the junta toward reform.

Ibrahim Gambari’s last trip to the military-ruled nation last August ended in deadlock, with Aung San Suu Kyi refusing to meet the diplomat and her party dismissing the visit as “a waste of time.”

On this four-day trip which began on Saturday, the UN has said Gambari wants “meaningful discussions with all concerned on all the points raised during his last visit.”

But there is still no word on whether Gambari will be granted a meeting with the reclusive head of state Senior General Than Shwe, or whether Aung San Suu Kyi will this time consent to meet with Gambari.

Yesterday, the UN negotiator met officials including Information Minister Kyaw Hsan and Foreign Minister Nyan Win in the commercial hub Yangon.

“He also met with relations minister Aung Kyi,” said a government official who did not want to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

He did not reveal what was discussed.

Aung Kyi’s appointment to coordinate junta contacts with Aung San Suu Kyi in October 2007 was seen as a major sop to the West after the violent suppression of anti-junta demonstrations in September that year.

But their last meeting was last January, and Aung San Suu Kyi said soon after she was “not satisfied” with the way the dialogue was progressing.

Instead, the junta has forged ahead with its own “Roadmap to Democracy” which its says will lead to multi-party elections in 2010 but which dissidents deride as a sham as it does not include Aung San Suu Kyi.

She has been detained by the junta for most of the last 19 years, and surprised observers in August by refusing to meet Gambari, a move interpreted as a snub after he had failed to secure any political reform.

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