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UN Envoy Arrives in Burma - 2003-06-08


United Nations special envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, has arrived in Rangoon on a mission to win the release of detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Nobel laureate has not been seen since last Friday, when she was taken into custody in a provincial town where clashes broke out between her followers and government supporters.

Before leaving Malaysia today (Friday), Mr. Razali said he would investigate the violence by talking to both the government and Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy. He added that he would attempt to meet with the NLD leader.

The U.S. State Department has denounced (Thursday) the Burmese military junta for what diplomats called "outrageous and unacceptable" conduct involving Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her party.

American officials say "thugs" affiliated with the Burmese authorities carried out a premeditated ambush on Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters, following a clash between pro-military demonstrators and members of the National League for Democracy in a northern town (Yaway Oo). Burmese officials say four people died in the clash, but exiled dissidents say the death toll was at least 70.

U.S. and British officials have called on Burma to allow Mr. Razali access to Aung San Suu Kyi. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says any refusal by Rangoon to allow such access would constitute a rebuff to the international community.

In Bangkok Thursday, Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said Burma's military rulers have assured him Aung San Suu Kyi's detention is only temporary.

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

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