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UN Envoy to Press Burmese Officials for Meeting with Suu Kyi - 2003-06-08

A United Nations envoy has not been able to meet with Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But Razali Ismail is expected to talk with Burmese officials again to press for a visit.

Razali Ismail, the United Nations special envoy, met with Burmese ethnic minority leaders Sunday, and continued to push his request to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi.

The leader of the National League for Democracy has been detained for more than a week, after her supporters clashed with pro-government groups. In addition, most other senior NLD leaders are under detention.

News reports late Sunday said Mr. Razali, who arrived Friday for a five-day visit, would meet with senior Burmese officials on Monday, and was expected to again ask to visit Aung San Suu Kyi.

Many diplomats and dissidents, however, doubt that Mr. Razali will be able to see her.

On Saturday and Sunday, Burmese military intelligence chief, Khun Nyunt, blamed the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi for the clash on May 30, which the military says killed at least four people.

Burmese dissidents, however, say dozens died in the violence, and claim pro-government groups began the fight. Diplomats say Aung San Suu Kyi is among the injured.

In state-run media on Sunday, General Khin Nyunt attacked what he termed "internal destructive elements," referring to Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD.

Mr. Razali's aides have indicated he might cut short his visit as a protest if he fails to meet Aung San Suu Kyi. Western countries have also threatened to strengthen economic and trade sanctions against Burma if the stalemate continues.

The military's crackdown may halt Mr. Razali's efforts to broker reconciliation talks between the government and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Chaiyachoke Chulasiriwong is a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University. He said the events of the past week may be the last chance for reconciliation, unless other countries can press the Burmese government to back down. "I think possibly it is gone, but it depends on outside opposition, that means the international community and Western countries. That might be the last hope that things can be change," he said.

The NLD won national elections in 1990, but was never allowed to take power. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent much of the time since then under house arrest. She was freed from her last detention a year ago.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Sunday joined dozens of other world leaders asking for her release.