Da The Daily Times del 22/05/2006
Originale su http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006522story_22-5-2006_pg4_15

‘Suu Kyi meeting aimed at blocking UN action'

Analysts say meeting was a ‘pre-emptive strike by the regime' to avert embarrassment at the UNSC

YANGON: Myanmar, under international pressure for reforms, has allowed a top United Nations envoy to see detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in an effort to block UN Security Council action, analysts said on Sunday.

Ibrahim Gambari, UN under-secretary general for political affairs, held talks with the 60-year-old Nobel peace laureate at a military guest house in Yangon on Saturday for about one hour. The surprise meeting followed Gambari's talks with Myanmar's reclusive leader Senior General Than Shwe at a secret jungle compound outside the central town of Pyinmana early Saturday.

“The envoy told the junta leader that Myanmar should speed up democratization and improve human rights,” a Yangon-based diplomat who received a briefing from Gambari on his mission told AFP.

“Also Gambari asked the junta to help UN humanitarian workers operate smoothly in the country,” the diplomat said.

The junta crushed pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988 and two years later rejected the results of national elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).

The last foreign visitor to see the opposition leader was Malaysia's Razali Ismail, the UN's special envoy for Myanmar, in March 2004. Analysts said Myanmar set up the meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and the envoy in an attempt to block UN Security Council action against the junta amid growing international pressure on the regime for democratic reforms.

“They know pressure is coming, particularly from the United States,” said Win Min, a Burmese political analyst in Thailand, referring to last week's US Senate resolution calling on Washington to lead UN Security Council action against Myanmar.

“If they don't allow Gambari to see Aung San Suu Kyi, they are worried Gambari will take up the Myanmar issue to the UN Security Council. He is the number three person at the UN,” said Win Min.

The United States put the international spotlight on Myanmar in December when it pushed the Security Council to hold a briefing on the junta's human rights and other problems for the first time. Last week US President George W Bush renewed economic sanctions on Myanmar for another year, saying the junta posed a threat to US national security and foreign policy. The US has a total ban on Myanmar's exports.

The US Senate resolution also condemned Myanmar for its latest offensive against ethnic Karen rebels, reportedly the most serious in a decade. Some 11,000 people are believed to have fled their homes because of the violence. “Even if it is an informal agenda at the Security Council, it will be embarrassing for the regime,” Win Min said.

Aung Naing Oo, another Burmese analyst in Thailand, agreed.

“They have to show some goodwill to the UN. Otherwise, the envoy will bring the Myanmar issue to the Security Council. In a way, the meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and the envoy was the regime's pre-emptive strike,” he said. A Western diplomat in Yangon described the meeting as “a good surprise.”

But the diplomat argued it could be “an attempt by the regime to diminish pressure on it as Americans are clearly getting impatient and are increasingly talking about Security Council action.”

All agreed that the junta was highly unlikely to release Aung San Suu Kyi anytime soon. “It will be a miracle if the military frees Aung San Suu Kyi,” Aung Naig Oo said.

“They are afraid of her because once she is out, she can quickly gather supporters,” he said. The Western diplomat also said it would be “a dream” if she goes free.

Win Min said he doubted Saturday's meeting would lead to any negotiations between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military government. “The military government only responds to international pressure, but they don't respond to internal pressure,” he said.

The meeting was welcomed on Sunday by Aung San Suu Kyi's party, which said it raised chances for her release.

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