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UN Envoy Ends Talks in Burma


U.N. special envoy to Burma Razali Ismail left Rangoon after four-days of talks with the military government, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and Burmese ethnic leaders. Diplomats are upbeat about Mr. Razali's efforts to accelerate the political thaw in Burma.

U.N. special envoy to Burma Razali Ismail concluded his fifth visit to Burma amid a growing consensus his efforts to advance a political dialogue are making progress.

But Mr. Razali left Rangoon without comment. He is to return to New York to report to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Mr. Razali spent four-days in meetings with senior military government leaders as well as at least two meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy.

The U.N. envoy also visited the party's headquarters and met with its Central Executive Committee.

Rangoon-based diplomats tell VOA Mr. Razali gave an upbeat assessment of the process during a Wednesday dinner meeting. They say there appears to be confidence in the process from both the military government and the National League for Democracy, in terms of keeping dialogue going.

The talks are part of U.N. efforts toward establishing a political dialogue between the military government and the National League for Democracy after almost 40-years of military rule in Burma.

The country has been politically deadlocked since the military refused to relinquish power to the National League for Democracy after it overwhelmingly won elections in 1990.

Since Mr. Razali brought the government and National League for Democracy together for talks last year, tensions have eased somewhat. The military government has ceased its critical rhetoric against Aung San Suu Kyi and released more than 150 political prisoners and democracy activists.

The NLD has presented a list of priority items to the government, especially the release of more political prisoners. But diplomats add there is little pressure at the moment for Aung San Suu Kyi to be freed from house detention. She has been confined since September last year when she and other party members attempted to travel outside Rangoon.

Mr. Razali also held talks with senior members of Burma's ethnic communities. The meetings with the U.N. representative are seen as vital in terms of the future unity of the ethnically diverse nation.

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