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Myanmar: UN to hold first talks in 2 years

Myanmar: UN to hold first high-level talks in 2 years with Government on democracy

The United Nations will later this week hold its first high-level talks in more than two years with the Myanmar Government in what a UN spokesman today called a “potentially important opportunity” to see what can be done to help the South Asian country move in the direction of all-inclusive democracy and human rights.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari will begin, starting on Thursday, a three-day visit that will include meetings with senior Government officials, members of civil society and representatives of political parties, including the National League for Democracy (NLD).

“The United Nations has not been able to engage to this extent with the Myanmar government and people on the vital issues of democracy and human rights for more than two years,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the daily noon briefing in New York.

“The Secretary-General views this visit, therefore, as an overdue and potentially important opportunity to assess developments in the country firsthand and to see what more can be done, including by the United Nations, to help Myanmar move in the direction of all-inclusive democracy, sustainable development and true national reconciliation.”

Mr. Gambari will convey a clear message that Myanmar's prospects for improved relations with the international community will depend on tangible progress in restoring democratic freedoms and full respect for human rights,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Over the past several years Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been pushing the Government to move towards democratic rule by releasing all detainees, including democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest.

Asked whether Gambari would meet with Ms. Suu Kyi, the spokesman said that a meeting with her has been requested.

The Secretary-General has consistently urged her release from detention, and Under-Secretary-General Gambari will certainly reinforce that message while in Myanmar, Mr. Dujarric added in response to questions.

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