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Annan to Burma: Free Suu Kyi Now - 2003-10-01


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged Burma's military rulers to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and prove to the world that national reconciliation is still alive.

Mr. Annan made the call in a written report to the General Assembly Tuesday. He said the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi has derailed moves toward democracy in Burma.

The report came as the special UN envoy to Burma arrived in Rangoon on a mission to revive the national peace dialogue he helped initiate three years ago.

Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail wants to meet with both Aung San Suu Kyi and senior Burmese leaders during his three-day visit.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman (Richard Boucher) encouraged Burma's military leaders to allow the meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi to take place.

Mr. Razali last visited Burma in June, just days after democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was detained after a violent clash between her supporters and pro-government demonstrators. Now, she is under house arrest while recovering from major surgery last week.

The U.N. diplomat is the one who first persuaded Burma's ruling military council to talk with the pro-democracy campaigner at the end of 2000. That dialogue has been stalled for many months.

In an address to the U.N. General Assembly Monday, Burma's Foreign Minister Win Aung said the government is committed to bringing about democracy.

But the editor of the independent newspaper, The Irrawaddy, tells VOA the Burmese government has shown no willingness to sit down with the opposition. Aung Zaw questions how the government can say it is leading the country in the right direction.

Information for this report is provided by AFP.

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