UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday that Myanmar’s junta chief rejected his initial request to meet jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a rocky start to what he has called “a very tough mission” to win her freedom. Ban emerged from a two-hour meeting with Myanmar’s reclusive Senior Gen. Than Shwe, saying he still hoped to meet the 64-year-old Nobel Peace laureate before he leaves the country on Saturday.
“I told him that I wanted to meet her, but he told me that she is (on) trial,” Ban told reporters afterward. “But I told him that this is my proposal, and this is important, and I’m waiting for their reply.”
The two met in an ornate reception hall with a colonnaded walkway in Naypyitaw, the junta’s remote administrative capital.
If Ban is allowed to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, he will be the first U.N. secretary-general to do so since her first period of detention started in 1989.
Suu Kyi has been in detention for nearly 14 of the past 20 years, mostly under house arrest.
Ban said he also urged Than Shwe to “accelerate the process of democratization” and reiterated calls for the junta to free its estimated 2,100 political prisoners ahead of the elections. AP