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UN Chief Calls on Burma to Release Political Prisoners


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made an appeal ahead of his trip to Burma for the country's military government to release all political prisoners.

Mr. Ban said Tuesday that Burmese leaders should release all political prisoners, including detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The U.N. chief said he will also press for the resumption of dialogue between the Burmese government and opposition groups, and for credible elections in 2010.

He was speaking to reporters in Tokyo after meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.

Mr. Ban is scheduled to arrive in Burma on Friday - the same day a trial for Aung San Suu Kyi is set to resume.

It is not clear whether the U.N. chief will be able to meet with her during his two-day visit.

U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas announced Mr. Ban's trip to Burma on Monday, following a visit last week by his special envoy for Burma, Ibrahim Gambari.

Burma's highest court on Monday rejected an appeal to reinstate two defense witnesses at Aung San Suu Kyi's trial. She is accused of violating her house arrest by letting American John Yettaw stay overnight after he swam to her home uninvited last month.

The opposition leader has been permitted only one witness, compared to 14 witnesses for the prosecution.

The international community has denounced the trial as a sham and is demanding her release.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 19 years under house arrest. If convicted, she faces five years in prison.

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

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