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UN Envoy In Burma to Press for Political Talks


United Nations special envoy to Burma Razali Ismail has arrived in Rangoon to push a fresh round of talks between the military government and the pro-democracy opposition. The envoy's visit comes after the government released two senior opposition party members from house detention.

U.N. special envoy to Burma Razali Ismail began his fifth visit Monday, aiming to inject momentum into the dialogue between Burma's military government and the opposition National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The start of Mr. Razali's four-day visit comes one day after the government released NLD Party Chairman, Aung Shwe, 83, and Vice Chairman Tin Oo, 75. Both had been held under house detention since September, when party members, along with Aung San Suu Kyi, attempted to travel outside of the capital.

Tin Oo, in comments to reporters, said the talks between his party and the government remain at a sensitive stage, so details will continue to be kept secret during the trust-building process.

Diplomats in Rangoon tell VOA the releases are seen as a good will gesture from Burma's military rulers.

The timing of Mr. Razali's visit is also seen as crucial. Diplomats note that the U.N. envoy's trips have generally come when talks between the two sides have almost come to a halt. Mr. Razali is considered the architect of the political dialogue, which began in October. Since then, tension between the government and the NLD has eased significantly, with the government releasing more than 150 political activists from jail, as well as some 30 elected representatives from so-called guest houses.

The talks are aimed at ending more than a decade of political deadlock in Burma, which began when the NLD was blocked from taking power after winning the 1990 elections.

The central opposition figure in the talks, Nobel laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi, said Monday she is working hard for the success of the closed-door talks with the military.

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