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UN Envoy Ready to Return to Burma

U.N. special envoy on Burma Razali Ismail said he will return to Rangoon to press for the freedom of more political prisoners. Freedom for all political prisoners remains a priority of Burma's opposition National League for Democracy.

After talks in London, the United States and Tokyo, U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail said he is preparing to return to Rangoon to press the military government to release more political prisoners.

Mr. Razali said his decision to travel to Rangoon was also to gain further insight into developments since the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from 19 months of house arrest on May 6.

After a period of euphoria among the international community upon the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, concerns have arisen over the further pace of moves by the military government toward political reform.

The visit would be Mr. Razali's eighth since the start of his involvement in pressing forward secretive talks between the military government and Aung San Suu Kyi began in late 2000.

But the military government has been accused of being slow in the release of political prisoners, with just more than 260 political dissidents set free.

Human rights groups have estimated as many as 1,500 political prisoners are being held in jails throughout Burma.

The international community - especially Europe, the United States, and Japan - is looking for further moves by the military government toward political reform before easing crippling trade and economic sanctions.

In a recent interview with VOA, a senior member of the NLD, U Lewin, said that for the party the release of more prisoners was a first priority before substantive across the table talks could begin.

Diplomats said the NLD is also looking to have released senior NLD members who are viewed as vital in the efforts to rebuild the NLD, after years of political harassment by the military government.