Myanmar rejects UN envoy's bid for three-way talks

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YANGON, Nov 7 (Reuters) Myanmar's ruling junta has rejected UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari's bid for three-way talks with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit, official media aid.

In New York, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was concerned by the lack of progress in Gambari's latest visit to Myanmar and his inability so far to meet the junta's top general.

Information Minister Kyaw Hsan told Gambari a three-way meeting -- which Gambari hopes would include himself, Suu Kyi, and junta officials -- was premature and he warned that tougher international sanctions on the former Burma would only make matters worse.

''Myanmar will not bow to outside pressure. It will never allow any outside interference to infringe on the sovereignty of the state,'' state-run MRTV quoted Kyaw Hsan as saying during talks with Gambari in the new capital Naypyidaw yesterday.

The United Nations said Gambari ''had very frank and extensive exchanges'' with senior junta officials on the fourth day of a mission aimed at securing talks between Suu Kyi and the generals who crushed pro-democracy protests in late September.

He urged that dialogue ''start without delay as an indispensable part of any process of national reconciliation, and the lifting of restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political detainees as the necessary steps to that end,'' the UN office in Yangon said in a statement.

The statement made no mention of Gambari's request for three-way talks involving himself, Suu Kyi and General Aung Kyi, who met the Nobel laureate for 75 minutes last month after he was appointed the junta's liaison minister.

Kyaw Hsan said Suu Kyi had not responded to the conditions set for direct talks with junta chief Senior General Than Shwe, which included ending ''confrontation'' and her support for sanctions and ''utter devasation'' -- a term not defined.

''He asked Gambari to urge Aung San Suu Kyi to respond to it,'' MRTV said.

NO STRINGS Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which won a massive election victory in 1990 only to be denied power by the army, has said any negotiations should have no prior strings attached.

Gambari was due to meet other top junta members and brief the diplomatic corps in Naypyidaw on Wednesday, but there was no word on an audience with Than Shwe.

''I am concerned at this time about the lack of progress. He (Gambari) has not been able to meet with Senior General Than Shwe,'' Ban told reporters at the United Nations.

The UN chief said he understood Gambari would meet Suu Kyi on Wednesday in Yangon, where she met him twice during his last visit after soldiers crushed pro-democracy protests in September, triggering international outrage. He also met Than Shwe on that trip.

Rumours that Suu Kyi had fallen ill swirled around Yangon on Tuesday, but NLD spokesman Nyan Win said the 62-year-old was ''okay.'' A source at Yangon's Asia Tawwin Hospital said Suu Kyi, who has spent 12 of the last 18 years in detention, had a minor operation to remove an ingrown finger nail and was returned to her lakeside home, where she is under house arrest.

Ban said he had instructed Gambari to seek to carry out his mandate to launch a dialogue between Suu Kyi and the generals, including Than Shwe, and to have Myanmar free all detained monks, students and demonstrators and ''take necessary democratic measures''.

The United Nations has said Gambari will stay in Myanmar as long as necessary to accomplish his mission, but his work has been complicated by the generals' move to kick out the top UN resident diplomat for highlighting the country's economic crisis.

The junta has, however, agreed to a visit by UN human rights envoy Sergio Paulo Pinheiro from Nov. 11 to 15, the UN said in a statement, the first time he has received a visa in four years.

REUTERS MP AS0438

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