UN envoy meets Myanmar's Suu Kyi
Detained pro-democracy leader meets UN envoy hoping to step up pressure for reform.
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2009 13:01 GMT

Aung San Suu Kyi says the UN must increase pressure on Myanmar's military government to reform [EPA]

The United Nation's special envoy to Myanmar has met Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's detained opposition leader, on the third day of his visit to the Southeast Asian country.

Ibrahim Gambari met the Nobel peace laureate at a state-run guesthouse in the former capital, Yangon.

No details were released on their discussions, which lasted for about an hour.

Earlier, witnesses saw Aung San Suu Kyi taken in convoy from her home where she has been held under house arrest for most of the past 19 years.

The leader of the country's main opposition party had refused to meet the UN envoy on his last visit in August 2008.

But this time she said she was was prepared to meet him if he stepped up pressure on Myanmar's ruling military to take firm steps towards democratic reform.

Gambari, who is on his seventh visit to Myanmar, has been criticised for failing to produce significant results in efforts to bring the opposition and the ruling military together.

'Meaningful discussions'

UN officials have said that on this visit Gambari wanted to have "meaningful discussions" with all parties, including talks on the country's ailing economy.

Despite rich agricultural land, oil and mineral reserves, Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar's generals have ruled
the country since 1962 [EPA]
The country is still struggling to recover from the impact of Cyclone Nargis last May, which killed an estimated 146,000 people.

After his meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi Gambari was due to travel to the town of Lambutta, one of the places hardest-hit by the cyclone.

Over the weekend Gambari met government leaders, urging them to release the country's political prisoners and resume reconciliatory dialogue with the opposition.

He is however not expected to meet with Senior General Than Shwe, the country's military leader.

The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962 and says it is pursuing its own so-called road map to democracy which will lead to "eventual elections" for a new national parliament.

Opposition groups have dismissed the road map as a sham, because it bars Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders from public office and guarantees the balance of power remains with the military.

Aung San Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy to victory in national elections held in 1990, but the military government ignored the results and has kept her under house arrest for most of the intervening years.

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