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Burma: Release Political Detainees, Says Envoy

Myanmar: UN envoy stresses need to lift restrictions on political detainees

Continuing his consultations with the authorities in Myanmar, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Adviser today again stressed the need for dialogue between the country's leadership and the opposition, and urged that all restrictions on political detainees, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, be lifted as a critical first step.

Ibrahim Gambari, who arrived in the country on Saturday, held meetings today in the capital, Nay Pi Taw, with the State Peace and Development Council Authoritative Team, composed of various ministers including those for foreign affairs, information, culture, and labour.

"Mr. Gambari and his counterparts had very frank and extensive exchanges on all of the issues being addressed in the context of the Secretary-General's good offices," UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

They includes the need for a dialogue to start without delay between the SPDC leadership and Ms. Suu Kyi - a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has been under house arrest for more than 11 of the past 17 years - as an indispensable part of any national reconciliation process, and the lifting of restrictions on all political detainees as the necessary steps to that end.

Mr. Gambari also met with the Minister for Planning and Economic Development, U Soe Tha, to discuss future cooperation between the Government and the UN Country Team in Myanmar.

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a letter to the UN that it does not want UN Resident Coordinator Charles Petrie to continue working in Myanmar, citing a statement released by the UN Country Team - headed by Mr. Petrie - which referred to socio-economic issues in Myanmar.

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In addition, the Special Adviser met with the Minister for Religious Affairs, Brigadier-General Thura Myint Maung, to discuss the Government's response to the participation of monks in the recent demonstrations.

During the remainder of his visit, Mr. Gambari is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Lieutenant-General Thein Sein, among others, and will also brief the diplomatic corps on his mission so far.

In Yangon, he is expected to meet Ms. Suu Kyi, the Central Executive Committee of the National League for Democracy, officials of the National Unity Party, and other relevant interlocutors, as well as the UN Country Team and the International Committee for the Red Cross.

In a related development, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar has been invited by the authorities to visit the country from 11 to 15 November.

Welcoming the invitation, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro notes that this sends a positive indication of Myanmar's willingness to cooperate with his mandate and the UN Human Rights Council.


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