Junta willing for talks with global community: UN

Pressure from neighbours and members of the Security Council, as well as offers of new aid, have spurred a shift from the regime.
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Published on May 25, 2006 01:16 PM IST
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None | ByPress Trust of India, United Nations

Myanmar's military junta appears ready to "turn a new page" and engage the international community after years of hostility, a top UN official has said.

Pressure from Myanmar's neighbours and members of the UN Security Council, as well as offers of new aid, have spurred a shift from the regime, Undersecretary-General Ibrahim Gambari told reporters on Wednesday, days after returning from a rare visit to the nation.

Gambari had rare access to senior leaders during his trip and was the first senior UN official to meet with detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in two years.

He said that was a sign of a changed attitude from the junta.

"I would say that there appears to be a willingness to turn a new page in the country's relations with the international community," Gambari said.

The next step, he said, would be to get the UN team that's now in place in Myanmar to start talks with the junta about improved humanitarian access to tens of thousands of displaced people in the country's east, the fight against HIV/AIDS, reconciliation with Suu Kyi's political party, which has been shut down, and other issues.

Gambari's comments were met with skepticism from the US Campaign for Burma, a Washington, DC Advocacy group.

Campaigns director Jeremy Woodrum cited the government's offensive against the Karen ethnic group in the east.

"They have used Aung San Suu Kyi in the past as a trump card to deflect international pressure," Woodrum said.

"The UN Security Council must act now to stop these senseless attacks on innocent civilians.

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