UN envoy meets Myanmar junta chief, Suu Kyi

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YANGON, Oct 2 (Reuters) UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari met junta chief Than Shwe and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi today at the end of a four-day mission to Myanmar to try to halt a bloody crackdown on democracy protests.

As Gambari left, there was no word on whether his single meeting with the 74-year-old Senior General, who rarely heeds the outside world, had persuaded him to relax his iron grip or start talks with Suu Kyi.

Gambari, despatched to the former Burma amid the clampdown on the biggest democracy protests in 20 years, arrived in Singapore today and was due to meet the city-state's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, tomorrow. The Singapore government statement gave no further details.

In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council condemned "violent repression" in Myanmar and called on the junta to allow its investigator to visit for the first time in four years.

"It's time for the government of Myanmar to respond to this truly universal appeal," Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, told the council.

Gambari will return to New York to brief Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations said.

The envoy met Than Shwe and other members of the junta's senior leadership to "discuss the current situation in Myanmar," it said, adding Gambari also met Suu Kyi but providing no details.

Last week's monk-led protests in Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, of up to 100,000 people and marches in other areas were halted by security forces who raided monasteries, imposed curfews and killed 10 people, by the official count.

The death toll is likely far higher, human rights groups and Western governments say.

Many feared a repeat of 1988, when the army crushed a nationwide uprising and killed an estimated 3,000 people over several months.

'CLIMATE OF TERROR' Witnesses reported slightly fewer troops on the streets of Yangon today.

But raids on homes by pro-junta gangs looking for dissident monks and civilians suggested Gambari's shuttle diplomacy and international calls for restraint had made little difference.

"They are going from apartment to apartment, shaking things inside, threatening the people," a Bangkok-based Myanmar expert with many friends in Yangon said.

"You have a climate of terror all over the city." US charge d'affaires Shari Villarosa told Reuters from Yangon that arrests continued throughout Gambari's mission.

"We have heard that arrests are continuing at night, like at 2 o'clock in the morning," she said.

"This government keeps power through fear and intimidation and they are trying to intimidate people to stay off the streets." More Reuters RS GC2228

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