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NEW Presser by UN envoy after his return from Burma

  • Kyaw Lwin

A top United Nations official said in New York on Wednesday that the government of Myanmar had shown what "appears to be a willingness to turn a new page in the country's relations with the international community."

The United States on Monday asked UN Undersecretary-General Ibrahim Gambari to brief the Security Council on his visit to Myanmar and his meeting with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a bid to focus scrutiny on the military junta's poor human rights record. Gambari may speak to the council next week.

China, which has close economic ties to Myanmar, has traditionally opposed such briefings for the attention they bring.

Yet there were no objections to the US request for undersecretary for general political affairs Ibrahim Gambari to discuss his trip with the council, according to US Ambassador John Bolton.

During his trip to the Southeast Asian nation, Gambari pressed the leader of Myanmar's military junta, Senior General Than Shwe, to restore democracy and cease human rights violations.

He also had an hour-long meeting with Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has spent about 10 of the last 17 years in detention, mostly under house arrest.

Gambari said his meeting with Suu Kyi was another reason to believe the government of Myanmar wanted to open up a "new chapter".

"I think they recognise it would be in their benefit, including on the issues such as help on HIV and other social, economic and humanitarian problems," Gambari said.

Gambari's trip was the first in more than two years by a high-level UN representative to Myanmar, also known as Burma. It was also the first time a foreigner had met with Suu Kyi since 2004.

The ruling military junta took power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy movement.

In 1990, it refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi's party won a landslide victory in a general election.

Information for this report is provided by APTN.

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