UN envoy returns Thursday to
Myanmar on latest mission to coax democratic reforms
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -
The U.N.'s special envoy to Myanmar returns to the
military-ruled country Thursday for his third attempt to coax
democratic reforms out of the junta since its deadly crackdown
on protesting monks and students last September.
Ibrahim Gambari's visit to Myanmar comes after a
tour of Asian countries last month, his latest mission to push
Myanmar's neighbors to urge the junta to restore democracy and
begin reconciliation talks with the opposition. Gambari met
leaders in China, Indonesia, Singapore and Japan.
Gambari "hopes to stay as long as necessary" in
Myanmar and to meet with "all the groups he was not able to see
during his last visit," the U.N. said in a statement. It added
that his itinerary was still under discussion with the junta.
The U.N. envoy was shunned by Myanmar's leader,
Sen. Gen. Than Shwe, when he last visited in November. The junta
also rejected his proposal of a three-way meeting involving
detained pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Aung San Suu Kyi, though Gambari did meet privately with her.
Gambari said recently he was "frustrated" at the
lack of tangible results from his visits to Myanmar.
"I'm asking to be allowed to see more people,
with more freedom and to stay longer, that's my wish," he said
last month in Jakarta.
Myanmar's junta has been strongly criticized for
sending troops to quash peaceful demonstrations in late
September, initially led by students and then by Buddhist monks,
protesting a fuel price hike.
The government said 10 people were killed, but
diplomats and dissidents say the death toll was much higher.
Thousands of monks and civilians were arrested.
The U.N. Security Council has strongly deplored
the government's crackdown and called for a "genuine dialogue"
between the junta and the pro-democracy opposition.