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UN envoy expects visit to Myanmar will be brought forward

UN envoy expects visit to Myanmar will be brought forward

UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari
The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar said today that his return to the South-East Asian nation may take place sooner than mid-April, the original date proposed by the Government.

While “it is still a subject for negotiation,” Ibrahim Gambari said he has received “encouragement” from sources in Beijing, where he is currently holding consultations, that Myanmar may move up the date of his visit. “I really hope this would be the case,” he stated.

This will be Mr. Gambari’s third visit to the country since last summer’s crackdown by the Myanmar authorities on peaceful protesters.

While in Beijing, the Special Adviser held “frank and constructive” talks with senior Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

“China has an important role to play in sending the right signal to the authorities in Myanmar to cooperate fully with the good offices role of the Secretary-General,” Mr. Gambari said in an interview with UN radio.

Last week Myanmar announced a constitutional referendum to be held this May, to be followed by “multi-party democratic elections” in 2010.

Mr. Gambari said it was a “significant step” that the Myanmar Government has established a time frame for the implementation of its political road map, while emphasizing that the process has to be inclusive, participatory and transparent to be credible.

To that end, he stressed the urgency of a substantive and time-bound dialogue between the Government and detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

From Beijing, Mr. Gambari will travel to Indonesia, Singapore and Japan.