UN envoy's return to Myanmar may still be in November

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WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari may not return to Myanmar until November to press the embattled nation into a move toward democratic reform, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said today.

The timing means the UN envoy's second visit to Myanmar could come later than hoped for by Western diplomats, despite efforts to expedite negotiations on democratization.

Gambari, who returned from his first visit to Myanmar last week, will set off this weekend on an Asian tour for talks with China, India, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia, which all wield considerable influence with Myanmar's military junta.

The envoy's second visit was originally planned for mid-November. It was then brought forward, raising expectations that he could return to Myanmar before the end of this month.

But Ban, in Washington to speak at a Peace Corps event, said in a Reuters Television interview that the second visit could occur in early November.

''I have instructed him to first visit the region to discuss with the leaders to create the necessary political atmosphere so that he will be able visit Myanmar sooner than mid-November,'' he said.

''We are expediting the process and continuously will be engaged in bringing democratisation of the Myanmar situation.'' Myanmar's military rulers last month began a violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators led by Buddhist monks.

Local authorities said 10 people were killed but Western governments say the toll is likely much higher.

The UN secretary-general's comments came a day after China joined Western powers in a UN Security Council statement deploring Myanmar's crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations and calling for political change there.

Reuters DKS VP0133

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