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UN chief urges Myanmar gov't, opposition to accelerate dialogue
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged here on Friday both the government and the opposition in Myanmar to accelerate national dialogue as soon as possible amid widespread violent protests in the country.

Addressing the UN Security Council, Ban said "the national reconciliation process must be accelerated and be made as broad-based, inclusive and transparent as possible."

He welcomed the announcement by the government of Myanmar of a possible meeting between Myanmar top leader Senior-General Than Shwe and Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader, stressing "a window of opportunity has opened."

Ban made the remarks at the opening meeting of the council when his Special Advisor on Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari briefed Council members on his recent four-day mission to Myanmar.

Gambari said that by the time his mission ended, the streets were "busier" and activity seemed to be "returning to normal" although the situation remains tense.

He noted that it is clear that the demonstrations over the past few weeks are "for the most part the expression of deep and widespread discontent about socio-economic conditions in the country."

"General vulnerability in Myanmar is defined by accelerating impoverishment and the growing inability of the social service structures to address the basic needs of the general population," the UN envoy said.

However, Gambari pointed out the protest coincided with the government's sudden decision on Aug. 19 to sharply increase the price of the fuel, and the marches by monks across the country appear to have provided a catalyst for the demonstrations to become explicitly political in nature.

Myanmar's UN Ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe stressed at the council meeting that no Security Council action is warranted with regard to the situation in Myanmar.

He thus called on the council to refrain from any action that would be detrimental to the good offices role of the secretary-general mandated by the General Assembly.

Swe also informed council members that his government has again invited Gambari to visit Myanmar sometime in November.

China's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Wang Guangya said that the current situation in Myanmar does not pose any threat to international or regional peace and security, and "the future of Myanmar lies in the hands of its own people and the government through dialogue and consultation."

He called for a right approach in dealing with issue concerning Myanmar, stressing the Security Council should adopt a prudent and responsible approach while handling the issue of Myanmar.

Wang voiced his expectation that by embarking on trips to Myanmar, secretary-general's good offices would truly help Myanmar to achieve internal stability and national reconciliation, provide constructive assistance to the country in addressing economic, social, humanitarian and human rights problems.

"Any actions to be conducted by the Security Council should be aimed at facilitating the good offices of the secretary-general, rather than affecting, or even undermining the mutual trust already established, which is crucial for Gambari's further efforts," the Chinese ambassador stressed.

Gambari, who just ended a four-day mission to Myanmar from Saturday to Tuesday amid widespread mass demonstrations by Buddhist monks in several parts of the country since Sept. 18, deeply exchanged views with Myanmar leaders on domestic situation and made widespread contacts with local people.
(Xinhua News Agency October 6, 2007)

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