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UN envoy meets Suu Kyi, junta leaders


Protesters carry a portrait of Myanmar's late General Aung San during a demonstration in Yangon on Saturday.
Protesters carry a portrait of Myanmar's late General Aung San during a demonstration in Yangon on Saturday. — Reuters photo

Yangon, September 30
A United Nations envoy held back-to-back meetings today with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s military rulers trying to find peaceful solution to the crisis that has engulfed the impoverished country.

The separate talks occurred as thousands of troops locked down Myanmar’s largest cities today. Scores of people were arrested overnight, further weakening a flagging uprising to end 45 years of military dictatorship.

Ibrahim Gambari, UN’s special envoy to Myanmar, went to the remote bunker-like capital Naypyitw yesterday to meet with the junta and stayed overnight, diplomats said.

He returned to Yangon today and was whisked to the state guest house to meet Suu Kyi, who was brought out of house arrest to see the UN envoy in what appeared to be an unexpected concession by the junta. He was likely to stay in Yangon overnight, said the diplomats.

The meeting With Suu kyi lasted about 90 minutes, the diplomats said on the condition of anonymity, citing protocol. The details of the meeting were not immediately known.

Ibrahim Gambari expects to meet Myanmar junta supremo Senior General Than Shwe before he leaves the military-ruled country, the UN said in a statement today. “He looks forward to meeting Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, before the conclusion of his mission,” it said.

Many people see China, Myanmar’s biggest trading partner, as the most likely outside catalyst for change.

But China, India and Russia do not seem prepared to go beyond words in dealing with the junta, ruling out sanctions as they jostle for a chance to get at Myanmar’s bountiful and largely untapped natural resources, especially its oil and gas.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has expressed its “revulsion” at the crackdown, but given no indication that it is considering an expulsion or any other action.

Pope appeals for peace

Vatican City: Pope Benedict appealed on Sunday for a peaceful solution to the “extremely serious” events in Myanmar and expressed his solidarity with the country’s impoverished population during their “painful trial”.

The call came after a group of dissidents, including a Myanmar opposition leader in exile, urged the Pope to address the brutal crackdown on protests in the country formerly known as Burma during his weekly Angelus blessing.

“I follow with great trepidation the extremely serious events in Myanmar in these days and want to express my spiritual closeness to its dear population in this painful trial that it is going through,” the Pope said, addressing the faithful at his summer residence outside Rome.

“While I offer my firm and intense prayers and invite the whole Church to do the same, I sincerely hope that a peaceful solution will be found, for the good of the country.”

Opposition leader Sein Win, who leads a self-proclaimed government-in-exile and the National Council of the Union of Burma, wrote to the Pope on Saturday urging him to lend his support as the spiritual leader of the catholic world to the protesters, an Italian union in touch with dissidents said. — Agencies

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Hundreds rally in Tokyo

Tokyo, September 30
Hundreds of Myanmar dissidents and their Japanese supporters marched in downtown Tokyo today to protest against the ruling junta’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement there.

More than 700 demonstrators shouted “Victory for democratisation,” “We don’t need dictatorship” and other slogans as they marched towards the Myanmar embassy in the south of the Japanese capital, eyewitnesses and press reports said.

They also demanded the junta stop violence and free detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Some of the demonstrators were carrying pictures of Japanese video journalist Kenji Nagai, who was shot dead on Thursday by troops while covering mass protests in Yangon.

In front of the embassy, more than 200 persons offered silent prayers in the evening for the victims of the crackdown. — AP

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