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UN Envoy in Burma in New Attempt to Foster Reconciliation


United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari is in Burma in a new bid to reconcile the military government and pro-democracy forces.

Gambari is making his second trip to Burma since the military cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators led by Buddhist monks in September. Gambari has urged the government to start talks with pro-democracy leaders.

Gambari's arrival today (Saturday) comes one day after the government decided to expel the top UN diplomat in the country.

Military leaders abruptly ended the mission of UN development coordinator Charles Petrie on Friday. He is being forced to leave because of his warning of the dire state of Burma's economy and humanitarian situation.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is disappointed by the decision to expel Petrie.

A White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, said the United States is "outraged" by Petrie's expulsion. He described it as an insult to the international community.

Hundreds of people were imprisoned during September's violent crackdown. Burma's military government released 46 of them Friday -- mostly members of the opposition National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi. At the same time, the government cut Internet access across the country.

Aung San Suu Kyi's party won elections in 1990, but the military government refused to hand over power.

More than 100 Buddhist monks marched this week in central Burma in the first protests since the September crackdown.

Information for this story is provided by AP and AFP.

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