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UN Burma Envoy Disappointed Over Lack of Results on Recent Trip

The U.N. Secretary General's Special Advisor on Burma says he is disappointed his recent trip to that country did not yield any tangible results, but says it was useful to the continued process of engaging Burma's military government. From United Nations headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Ibrahim Gambari told the Security Council that he was disappointed that he was unable to meet with senior Burmese leaders and representatives of ethnic and minority groups, but he was pleased to be allowed two meetings with pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years.

"In my meetings with her, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi asked me to report that she is in good health and in good spirits," said Ibrahim Gambari.

The United Nations has called for the release of all political prisoners, and Gambari said he stressed to Burmese authorities that no dialogue can be complete unless Aung San Suu Kyi is released and included in reconciliation talks.

He also said the trip, though it did not have any concrete results, did allow him an opportunity to convey to officials there the U.N.'s views and concerns, as well as specific suggestions, for enhancing the credibility of the constitutional referendum scheduled for May and the general elections promised for 2010.

Burma's U.N. Ambassador [Kyaw Tint Swe] told the council that his country has been and will continue to cooperate with the United Nations.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador John Sawers told reporters Gambari's briefing was not encouraging. While U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called the envoy's lack of concrete achievement during his recent visit disappointing.

Gambari paid his third visit to Burma, also known as Myanmar, from the sixth to ninth of March. He met with the country's foreign minister and members of the constitutional drafting committee and individuals planning the May referendum, but did not meet senior General Than Shwe, the country's top leader.

He says he has no immediate plans to return to Burma, but that a future visit must be carefully planned. He said there are even suggestions that he might meet with senior Burmese officials in a third country to prepare for a future visit.