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UN Disappointed At Burma Position On UN Official

Ban Ki-moon 'disappointed' by Myanmar's attempt to end UN official's service

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed disappointment over Myanmar's decision to call for an end to the service of the highest-ranking United Nations official in the South-East Asian nation.

Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a letter to the world body that it does not want UN Resident Coordinator Charles Petrie to continue his work in the country.

The letter, which was signed by the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs, cited a statement released by the UN Country Team - headed by Mr. Petrie - on 24 October which referred to socio-economic issues in Myanmar.

Authorities "said that [Mr. Petrie] had acted beyond his capacity by issuing the Country Team statement on UN Day about the socio-economic situation in the country and the Government considered that inappropriate," the Secretary-General's spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York.

No time frame was given by Myanmar for Mr. Petrie to leave the country, and Ms. Montas stressed that "he has not been declared persona non grata."

According to a statement, Mr. Ban "has full confidence in the United Nations Country Team and its leadership and appreciates their contribution to the improvement of the socio-economic and humanitarian conditions for the people of Myanmar."

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) also voiced its strong support for Mr. Petrie, "who has always abided by the principles and charter of the United Nations," and that it supports last month's statement made by the Country Team.

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Ms. Montas noted that the Secretary-General also endorses the 24 October statement.

At a meeting this morning at the Istanbul airport, Mr. Ban gave instructions to Ibrahim Gambari, his Special Adviser, to convey his views directly to Myanmar's authorities when Mr. Gambari begins his visit to the country tomorrow.

Upon his arrival in Myanmar, the Special Adviser is scheduled to meet with Mr. Petrie.


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