Myanmar admits thousands arrested

State media says more than 2,000 held as top general offers to meet Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Gambari delivered "the strongest possible message" but he said it did not seem to have much effect [AFP]
    China praised Gambari's talks with Myanmar's military rulers but, together with Russia, made clear the crisis was an internal matter and did not threaten international peace.
     
    China said it was opposed to any security council action.
     
    Its ambassador to the UN, Wang Guangya, said: "There are problems there in Myanmar but these problems still, we believe, are basically internal.
     
    "No international-imposed solution can help the situation."

    Open session
     

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    But China and Russia relented on their initial demand that the security council session where Gambari would give his report be held behind closed doors.
     
    They had said Gambari would feel greater freedom to be forthright in a closed session but in the end agreed with the rest of the council to have Gambari brief members on Friday morning at an open meeting.
     
    Myanmar's representative has been invited to speak as has Singapore's, the country being the current head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
     
    The council will then hold consultations behind closed doors.
     
    Al Jazeera's UN correspondent, Mark Seddon, said the open session was unprecedented on the issue of Myanmar and indicated the council's intent to show Myanmar's rulers that the eyes of the international community were on them.
     
    He added that this could be the beginning of sanctions against Myanmar and there was talk that Gambari would return to the South-East Asian nation in November to see what progress was being made.
     
    Suu Kyi offer
     
    Possibly hoping to head off any sanctions, state media reported on Thursday that Myanmar's ruler, Senior General Than Shwe, had agreed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained opposition leader.
     
    But she must end her support for sanctions against the government and give up "promoting confrontation and utter devastation", state media said.
     
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    The military also announced that it had arrested more than 2,000 people during the crackdown on the greatest challenge to military rule in 20 years.
     
    Gambari was dispatched to Myanmar after troops opened fire on anti-government protesters last week.
     
    State media said 10 people were killed, but foreign governments and dissident groups put the toll in the hundreds and say 6,000 people were detained, including thousands of monks.
     
    The government is continuing to round up suspected activists.
     
    Separately, the US state department said the Myanmar government had invited the US envoy in Yangon for talks on Friday and the envoy is likely to reiterate the US view that the military rulers must "stop the iron crackdown" and start a "meaningful" dialogue with all democratic opposition groups.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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