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United Nations Envoy in Talks for Early Return to Burma


The United Nations envoy to Burma says he is talking with Burmese officials about his return to the military-ruled country, and notes that he would like to visit sooner than expected.

Speaking with reporters in Malaysia Wednesday, Ibrahim Gambari said he has already confirmed a trip to Burma around mid-November, but said he would like to visit at an earlier date.

Gambari is currently on an Asian tour aimed at increasing pressure on Burma's military government after its bloody crackdown of pro-democracy protests last month.

Gambari did not say who he would meet while in the country, but stressed that it is important to see Burma's top military leader General Than Shwe and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi -- who is under house arrest.

Gambari has called on Burma to stop its arrests of protesters, but witnesses inside the country say individuals continue to be detained.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is "deeply worried" about the fate of thousands of people arrested during the recent government crackdown in Burma and is seeking access to detainees. The group said that its efforts to see detainees had so far been unsuccessful.

A front page story in the Burma's official "New Light of Myanmar" newspaper today said that nearly three-thousand people have been detained in the crackdown. The report said hundreds remain in custody and that the hunt for others continues.

The newspaper also said those who have been released signed pledges. Detained protesters in Burma are frequently asked to sign pledges to not participate in future protests before being freed.

The government's release of the number of protesters detained is the most detailed to date.

Information for this story is provided by AP, AFP, and Reuters.

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