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G8 Calls on Burma to Release Political Prisoners

Major industrialized nations have issued a call for Burma to free all political prisoners, including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Leaders from the Group of Eight welcomed the United Nations secretary-general's efforts to communicate the international concerns to Burma's military government.

But the G8 statement said Burma's military leaders failed to take the opportunity of Ban Ki-moon's visit to the country to respond to those concerns.

The declaration said there is an urgent need for an inclusive process of dialogue and national reconciliation that will lead to what it called "transparent, fair and democratic multiparty elections."

G8 leaders said they remain prepared to respond positively if Burma undertakes substantive reforms.

On Thursday, the U.N. chief discussed Burma with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the sidelines of the G8 summit.

Burmese leaders denied Mr. Ban's request to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit to Burma last week.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years, is on trial for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest.

She could face a five-year prison sentence if convicted of charges that stem from allowing an American intruder to stay at her home overnight after the man swam across a Rangoon lake to get there.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.