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Myanmar allows early visit of UN envoy

world Updated: Oct 24, 2007 08:41 IST

Bowing to international pressure, Myanmar's military junta has agreed to allow the UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari to prepone his visit to the country during which he hopes to kickstart a dialogue between government and pro-democracy opposition.

Originally, the envoy was to visit Myanmar in the second week of November but junta told the UN that he could come in first week though dates were yet to be decided.

This is the second concession announced by the military government in as many days, having earlier agreed to the visit of Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, the Secretary-General's Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, after denying him access for four years.

Gambari, who is the in the region urging neighbouring nations to press junta to start dialogue with the opposition, is expected to go straight to Myanmar following his mission instead of returning to report to the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council.

The special envoy was in New Delhi on Tuesday where he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and delivered a personal message from the Secretary-General. Earlier, he had talked to Singh on phone on the issue.

The Prime Minister and Gambari had "detailed and substantive discussions" on the UN's efforts in Myanmar and "India's support in this regard," UN spokesperson Michele Montas said on Tuesday.

Gambari "has been urging India and other regional countries to actively encourage Myanmar to continue to cooperate with efforts by Secretary-General's good offices, including by addressing continuing human rights concerns," he told reporters.

So far, Gambari has met with officials in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The special envoy, after his visit to India, is now on his way to Beijing, where he is scheduled to meet with senior officials before going on to Tokyo for consultations with Japanese officials.

The US and its western allies have been urging Ban to try to send Gambari back to Myanmar as early as possible to continue pressure on the military government to move towards a democratic set up and release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi.