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UN envoy optimistic of meeting Suu Kyi

Yangon, June 9 (Reuters): A UN envoy in Myanmar to secure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi will not meet the top leader of the military junta as scheduled, but there is a chance he may be able to see the detained Nobel laureate, aides said today.

Veteran Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail was to meet General Than Shwe, the head of the military regime, tomorrow but the meeting has been called off, sources close to the envoy said. No reason was immediately known. But Razali said he was encouraged by a meeting with two of the country’s most powerful generals today in which he tried to persuade the junta to let him see Suu Kyi.

International concern has intensified over the health and whereabouts of the pro-democracy leader since a clash between her supporters and those of the junta on May 30 as she was touring a provincial town in the north. She has been in detention since then.

Razali was upbeat after meeting army chief Maung Aye and military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, also known as Secretary One, ranked second and third in the junta’s hierarchy. “I’m encouraged by the meeting today with vice-senior General Maung Aye in the presence of Secretary One,” Razali told reporters. “I’m hopeful of fulfilling one or two of the objectives of my visit.”

Aides had said Razali was considering leaving the country today, a day earlier than scheduled, if he was not allowed to see Suu Kyi. He is now scheduled to leave tomorrow after briefing Yangon-based diplomats on his visit. As he headed for an afternoon meeting with Myanmar’s foreign minister, one of his aides said there was “still a possibility” of a meeting with Suu Kyi.

Diplomats say Than Shwe, who was away from Yangon over the weekend, is likely to have sole authority to give Razali access to Suu Kyi. State media, which usually announces Than Shwe’s return to Yangon, had not done so by today afternoon.

He failed to get permission to see Suu Kyi during weekend meetings with Khin Nyunt.

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