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UN Special Envoy Tells Security Council of Positive, But Limited Progress in Burma


United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari says Burma's military government has taken some positive steps since his visit last week, but not as many as he had hoped.

In a briefing Tuesday with members of the Security Council in New York, Gambari noted the lifting of curfews, withdrawal of visible military presence from the streets, and release of many detained protesters.

He also mentioned that the military government had appointed a liaison who has met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

But he said his trip did not produce all of its objectives, such as the lifting of restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi.

Gambari said he told the government that the best way to demonstrate their commitment to dialogue with the dissident is to release her from house arrest.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said he was heartened by these developments. But he said these small signs of progress are insufficient and do not yet constitute a fundamental shift.

He reiterated U.S. support for Aung San Suu Kyi's proposal to engage in meaningful and time-bound dialogue with the Burmese government.

Earlier Tuesday, Burmese dissident sources reported that Burmese authorities arrested a monk who helped spearhead the pro-democracy protests that were crushed in September.

Word of U Gambira's arrest closely followed news that Burmese authorities had arrested a prominent labor rights activist, Su Su Nway.

Also Tuesday, U.N. human rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro met with Burmese government ministers in the remote capital of Naypyidaw.

His visit to the Burmese capital will continue Wednesday.

During his five-day visit ending Thursday, Pinheiro is trying to determine just how many people died during the September crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

According to Burmese officials, 10 people were killed and nearly 3,000 detained in the crackdown. But diplomats and human rights groups argue that the true figures are much higher.

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

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