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UN Secretary-General Hopeful After Special Envoy's Briefing on Burma

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is hopeful a process initiated by his special envoy to Burma will lead to meaningful dialogue within an agreed timeframe

Mr. Ban's statement was released Monday after he was briefed by telephone by envoy Ibrahim Gambari about his recent visit to Burma.

Gambari later briefed General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim in New York. He is expected to confer with the Security Council Tuesday or Wednesday.

Following Gambari's visit, detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has since met with members of her National League for Democracy for the first time in more than three years. She also has met with a newly appointed government liaison.

Also Monday, Human Rights Watch called on countries, such as China, Thailand and the United States to block the purchase of gems from Burma that help finance the military government.

The group calls for targeted sanctions to be put in place ahead of major gem auctions open in Rangoon later this week.

Earlier Monday, a U.N. human rights investigator visited a notorious Burmese prison for political detainees as part of his probe of the military-ruled country's crackdown on anti-government protests.

Pinheiro has also visited two monasteries involved in demonstrations and sites where detainees were held, such as the Government technical college in Rangoon.

Pinheiro is on his first visit to Burma since 2003.

While in Burma, the envoy is expected to try to meet with political detainees and learn the actual death toll from the recent protests seeking economic and democratic reforms.

Burmese officials say 10 people were killed and about three thousand arrested during the protests. Diplomats and human rights groups argue that the true figures are much higher.

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