Top UN official returns to Myanmar this month for talks on rights and democracy

1 November 2006

The United Nations top political officer will visit Myanmar later this month for high-level talks to try to help the Asian country make serious progress in human rights, political freedoms and humanitarian assistance, a UN spokesman said today.

The visit by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari follows a trip he made in May, when he said the Government, after two years of isolation, seemed willing to engage in a dialogue with the international community.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has repeatedly called for the release of the country’s most prominent democracy advocate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 10 of the past 16 years. During his May visit Mr. Gambari met with her and members of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).

When he confirmed September that the Government had invited him to make a new visit, Mr. Gambari said he hoped to hold talks with all the key figures in Myanmar during his trip, including those he spoke to in May.

He said Myanmar had made progress recently in some areas, including the release of a prominent political prisoner and reforms on the issue of forced labour, but added that much more was still required on various fronts, including democratization, improving humanitarian access to those in need, and agreeing to a cessation of hostilities with rebel forces in Karen state.

During his May trip, he met with a number of senior government officials, including General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council.


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