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Gambari: door open for "substantive dialogue"

Latest update : 2008-01-07

UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari says a path to "substantive dialogue" between Burma's junta and detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is now open, at the end of his six-day visit to the country.

YANGON, Nov 8 (Reuters) - A path to "substantive dialogue"
between Myanmar's junta and detained opposition leader Aung San
Suu Kyi has been opened, U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari
said on Thursday.
 
"We now have a process going which would lead to
substantive dialogue between the Government and Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi as a key instrument in promoting national
reconciliation in an all-inclusive manner," he said in a
statement.
 
"The sooner such a dialogue can start, the better for
Myanmar," Gambari said at the end of a six-day visit to the
former Burma, a country ruled by the military for an unbroken
period of 45 years.
 
The statement gave no clues on what progress Gambari had
made in his mission to persuade the junta, which crushed
pro-democracy protests in September, to do a deal with Suu Kyi.
She has spent 12 of the last 18 years in detention.
 
But it said Gambari would return to Myanmar in the next few
weeks and continue talks "to achieve the goals which we all
share; prosperity, democracy and full respect for human
rights".
 
Suu Kyi had authorised Gambari to issue a statement on her
behalf "upon the close of his mission", the statement said.
 
However, there were no immediate signs of substantial
progress in coaxing the ruling junta towards reform.
 
After an hour-long meeting with Gambari on Thursday, Suu
Kyi was returned under armed escort to house arrest at her
lakeside villa in Yangon.
 
Gambari, who also met monks and three senior members of Suu
Kyi's National League for Democracy, left for the airport to
return to U.N. headquarters in New York.
 
He is to brief members of the Security Council next week on
his second visit since at least 10 people, and probably more,
were killed in September's ruthless suppression of the biggest
pro-democracy protests in nearly 20 years.
 
HARSH TONE
 
The day before he landed, the junta set the tone, summoning
the U.N.'s top resident diplomat to its new capital to tell him
he would be kicked out for a statement linking August's fuel
price protests to the dire state of the economy.
 
Gambari then failed to secure a follow-up meeting with
junta supremo Than Shwe and had a proposal for three-way talks
on political reform including himself, Suu Kyi and the military
rejected as premature.
 
The junta then launched into an extraordinary tirade
against the United Nations, accusing it of being biased,
interfering and subservient to the whims of the United States.
 
The four-page "clarification on Myanmar's situation"
carried in state media also showed disdain for anything but the
junta's seven-step "democracy roadmap", which Western
governments have dismissed as a sham to cement the generals'
grip on power.
 
Diplomats, who had seen a sliver of hope in Gambari's two
visits, were stunned.
 
"There's no doubt in my mind that this regime has no
intention of cooperating with Gambari or of starting a process
of genuine political dialogue," one Yangon-based diplomat said.
"It's beyond them."
 
The only hope is that the generals take Gambari's idea of
three-way dialogue, rehash it and then represent it as their
own initiative, former Australian ambassador Trevor Wilson
said.
 
"They won't accept any proposition like this unless they
can demonstrate it's not outside pressure and outside
interference," Wilson said. "They very often don't come at
something first time around, particularly if it's not something
they thought of."
 
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won 1990 elections
by a landslide, but was denied power by the military, which has
ruled in one form or another since a 1962 coup.
 
During that time, the economy -- one of Asia's brightest
prospects on independence from Britain in 1948 -- has collapsed
under the weight of disastrous experiments with home-grown
socialism, corruption and, latterly, some Western sanctions.

Date created : 2007-11-08

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