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United Nations Envoy in Talks for Early Return to Burma


The United Nations envoy to Burma says he is talking with Burmese officials about his return to the military-ruled country.

Speaking with reporters in Malaysia Wednesday, Ibrahim Gambari said he has already confirmed a trip to Burma around mid-November, but said he would like to visit at an earlier date.

Gambari is currently on an Asian tour aimed at increasing pressure on Burma's military government after its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests last month.

He stressed that it is important to see Burma's top military leader General Than Shwe and detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Also today, Amnesty International released new video and audio testimony of ongoing night raids, arbitrary arrests and appalling detention conditions. The London-based rights group said the evidence contradicts government claims that no political prisoners are being held.

Just before her arrest last week, pro-democracy activist Mie Mie told Amnesty that there are about four-thousand monks and civilians still under detention.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is "deeply worried" about the fate of thousands of people arrested during the recent government crackdown in Burma and is seeking access to detainees. The group said that its efforts to see detainees had so far been unsuccessful.

A front page story in Burma's official "New Light of Myanmar" newspaper today said that nearly three-thousand people have been detained in the crackdown. The report said hundreds remain in custody and that the hunt for others continues.

The newspaper also said those who have been released signed pledges. Detained protesters in Burma are frequently asked to sign pledges to not participate in future protests before being freed.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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