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UN Head to Explore Ways to Pressure Burma to Release Aung San Suu Kyi - 2003-07-16

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he is exploring ways to pressure Burma's military to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mr. Annan says he is discussing the next steps to take to free Aung San Suu Kyi. He focused on the issue in a meeting with his special envoy to Burma, former Malaysian U.N. Ambassador Razali Ismael, who last month described the conditions in which the Nobel Laureate is being held as "deplorable."

"As you know, he is the only person to have seen Aung San Suu Kyi since she was arrested and he has been consulting with leaders in the region and he will brief me on where we stand and for us to explore what the next steps should be and what future action we should take," he said.

Mr. Annan also met with a representative from the Burmese military government. In the past, the Burmese leadership has warned against international intervention.

The secretary-general says that it is premature to discuss imposing U.N. sanctions since the Security Council has not taken up the issue of Aung San Suu Kyi's arrest.

But he says the international community is becoming increasingly concerned about the detention of the pro-democracy leader. "I know some governments are becoming quite exercised about developments in Myanmar," he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill for the president's signature that would tighten sanctions on Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party won national elections in 1990. But Burma's military leaders blocked her from office.