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Senior UN Envoy Meets Burma's Detained Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi


A senior U.N. envoy has met with Burma's detained opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The envoy is the first high-ranking U.N. official to be allowed into Burma in more than two years.

It was the first time that Burma's detained democratic opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been allowed to meet foreign visitors in more than two years.

The hour-long meeting with the United Nations envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, took place at a guesthouse in Rangoon Saturday.

There were no immediate details from the meeting.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy, has spent 10 of the last 16 years mostly under house arrest.

Her plight has become a symbol of the repressiveness of Burma's military government.

Before the meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, Gambari held talks with Burma's senior leader, General Than Shwe, in the new administrative capital of Naypyidaw, 400 kilometers north of Rangoon.

Gambari is the first high-ranking U.N. official allowed into Burma in more than two years. The United Nations is pressing Burma's military to move ahead with long promised democratic reforms.

Burma proposed a "road map" to democracy in 2003 under former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt. But the process stalled, after Khin Nyunt was ousted from the military leadership in 2004.

U Lwin, a senior opposition party member who also met with Gambari Friday, says it is not clear if this U.N. visit will produce immediate results.

"Depending on the meeting with the various agencies, and probably they would like to talk again with this regime [on reforms]," he said.

Carl Thayer, a lecturer at the Australian Defense Force Academy, remains pessimistic U.N. pressure will lead the military to move on political reforms.

"I don't see any signs that the Burmese, that they are going to be moved," said Mr. Thayer. "Anybody inside the regime with Khin Nyunt, that was looking to open up, have either all been put in jail or marginalized."

Gambari was scheduled to brief diplomats and representatives of U.N. agencies on Saturday night before departing Burma.

The international community has kept up pressure on the military government to reform after decades of rule. The United States and European Union maintain economic sanctions.

And, members of the Association of South East Asian Nations, of which Burma is a member, have broken with their policy of non-interference, and called for a political transition in Burma.

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