Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN Envoy 'Encouraged' By Indian Stance on Burma

The U.N. special envoy to Burma says he will return to the military-run state earlier than planned. Ibrahim Gambari made the announcement after "encouraging" talks with Indian government leaders about the Burmese government's violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. VOA's Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

Ibrahim Gambari's visit is part of a six-nation Asian tour meant to press New Delhi, Beijing and other capitals to do more to push for democratic reform in Burma.

India is facing criticism for its mild response to Burma's violent crackdown on protests led by Buddhist monks.

India sells military equipment to Burma and cooperates with it to fight separatists active along their common jungle border. India also has a surging demand for energy, and is in competition with China to exploit Burma's oil and gas resources.

The close relationship has led India to resist calls for sanctions on its neighbor, telling the U.N. envoy that the government in Burma, also known as Myanmar, can be nudged toward democracy without coercion.

Without providing details, Gambari said he considers this week's meetings with Indian leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a success.

"I am encouraged by the undertaking which they have given to do everything possible to support in concrete terms the good official role of the secretary-general and use their influence to encourage the authorities in Myanmar to continue their cooperation and to deliver tangible result," Gambari said.

Gambari says he will return to Burma early next month, sooner than had been expected. The Nigerian diplomat says he is also encouraged by some positive moves the government there has made since his urgent visit in September and October.

"It may not produce immediate results," Gambari said. "But if you notice that step by step, the authorities have been responding to some of the issues that we left with them."

These include removing the military from the streets, releasing many of those arrested, and giving permission for the U.N. investigator on human rights to visit.

The United States and European Union are in favor of expanding sanctions against Burma. Singapore on Monday rejected calls for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to follow suit.

An ASEAN summit is to be held in mid-November and Burma is expected to be high on the agenda.

Gambari has been to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia on this trip. China and Japan are next on his itinerary.