Pressure on Myanmar junta can work, UN envoy says

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 13 (Reuters) UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari said today the situation in Myanmar was ''qualitatively different'' from a few weeks ago and he believed its military-led government could be responsive to international pressure.

Reporting to the UN Security Council on his recent visit to Myanmar to investigate the crisis there, Gambari said his trip did not produce all the results he had hoped for, but there had been some positive steps.

He noted that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi had been allowed to issue a statement for the first time in over four years and had been allowed to meet members of her party.

''I have stressed to the government that the best way to make real their commitment to dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is to release her without delay so that she can become a full partner in dialogue,'' he said.

Gambari also said the government had assured him it would release more detainees and make no more arrests.

However, earlier today, activist Su Su Nway was arrested in the main city Yangon after being on the run since the army crushed pro-democracy protests in late September, an opposition source said.

''On balance, the positive outcomes of this latest mission show that the government of Myanmar ... can be responsive to the concerns of the international community,'' Gambari said, adding that a process had been started that he hoped would lead to ''substantive dialogue.'' Gambari is a former Nigerian foreign minister and used to head the UN Department of Political Affairs.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate and leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy, has been under house arrest for more than 10 of the last 17 years.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962, and the government has ignored a 1990 landslide election victory by Suu Kyi's party.

Gambari visited Myanmar in early October to convey international concern to junta leaders over the violent suppression in late September of monk-led protests against decades of military rule and deepening poverty.

After marches that attracted as many as 100,000 protesters, Western governments say the death toll in the crackdown was probably far higher than the 10 people reported officially.

Reuters RC VP0305

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