UN’s top political officer meets Myanmar ministers, stresses need for political progress

9 November 2006

The top United Nations political officer arrived in Myanmar today where he emphasized the need for progress, including the release of political prisoners, in talks with Government ministers, a UN spokesman said.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, began a four-day visit building on an earlier one in May, when he spoke with a cross-section of officials, including the most prominent democracy advocate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 10 of the past 16 years.

“In meetings in Yangon today with the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Labour and Planning, Mr. Gambari discussed enhancing cooperation between the UN and Myanmar, while stressing the need for concrete results in areas of concern to the international community,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

“These include: the need to make the road map political process more transparent and inclusive, the release of political prisoners, the opening of space for humanitarian assistance, and the situation in Kayin State,” he said, referring to the disputed southern area also known as Karen State where the military are fighting various local groups.

On Monday, when Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced Mr. Gambari’s visit, he emphasized that the continued value of such engagement “can only be demonstrated by tangible steps forward on central issues such as human rights, democratic reform and national reconciliation.”

Mr. Annan has repeatedly called for the release of Ms. Suu Kyi and, during his May visit, Mr. Gambari met not only with her but also members of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). Over the next few days he is scheduled to meet with all the groups and people that he spoke with on his first visit.

 

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