UN official to meet Myanmar leaders this week

But it is unclear if the UN Undersecy-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, will see detained Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2006 13:34 IST

A senior UN official will meet Myanmar's military leaders during a visit this week, but it is unclear if he will see detained Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, diplomats said on Tuesday.

UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, who was granted a rare opportunity to meet with Suu Kyi during his last visit in May, was expected in Myanmar for a four-day visit starting Thursday, said diplomatic officials who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

The government has declined to release exact dates for Gambari's visit, saying only that he was expected in the second week of November.

Information Minister Brig Gen Kyaw Hsan said last week that Gambari was visiting at the invitation of the government and would also observe meetings of the National Convention, which is establishing guidelines for a new Constitution.

The minister said last week that Gambari had not requested a meeting with Suu Kyi, the country's opposition leader who has spent 11 of the last 17 years in detention, mostly under house arrest.

One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that a meeting with Suu Kyi was "still in the air".

The United Nations has been one of the louder voices calling for democratic reforms in Myanmar, also called Burma, and the junta has responded by barring UN special envoys from the country.

The last one, Razali Ismail, resigned in frustration shortly after a 2004 visit.

During his May visit, Gambari met Suu Kyi for about 45 minutes at a government guesthouse where he stayed.

He was the first foreigner to visit with Suu Kyi since special envoy Razali saw her in March 2004.

On that visit, Gambari also met junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe and other top junta leaders at the country's new administrative capital, Naypyidaw, 400 kilometres north of Yangon.

Suu Kyi has been kept in near solitary confinement at her lakeside home in Yangon, and is generally not allowed outside visitors or telephone contact.

Myanmar's military rulers seized power in 1988 after violently crushing a pro-democracy movement.

The junta called elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power when the vote was won by the opposition party led by Suu Kyi, who won a Nobel peace prize in 1991.

Western nations and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan have repeatedly called for Suu Kyi's release.

First Published: Nov 07, 2006 13:34 IST