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UN envoy meets Suu Kyi

Yangon, Sept. 30 (Reuters): UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari today met detained Myanmar Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi but had yet to hold talks with the head of the junta on ending a bloody crackdown on protests against 45 years of military rule.

“He looks forward to meeting senior General Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, before the conclusion of his mission,” the UN said.

It gave no indication of when Gambari might meet Than Shwe, who is based in Naypyidaw, the new capital 385km north of Yangon, and whose government rarely heeds pressure from outside.

Diplomats said Gambari met Suu Kyi for more than an hour at a Yangon government guest house near the lakeside villa, where she is confined without a telephone and required official permission, granted rarely, to receive visitors.

They met after Gambari flew back from Naypyidaw where he had talks with acting Prime Minister Thein Sein, culture minister Khin Aung Nyint and information minister Kyaw Hsan — all generals — after his arrival yesterday, the diplomats said.

There was no word on whether he had made progress towards ending the crackdown on the biggest anti-junta protests for nearly 20 years, in which hundreds of monks were arrested, central Yangon was sealed off and troops were deployed on the streets.

There were no crowds visible today in central Yangon, where security forces have snuffed out the protests by barricading off the two major pagodas at their heart and keeping away the revered Buddhist monks who led them. Troops and police searched bags and people for cameras and the Internet remained offline.

Soldiers were posted on nearly every street corner in the city of 5 million people and groups could not gather without attracting attention, witnesses said.

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission said at least 700 monks and 500 other people had been arrested throughout the country.

The protests began with small marches against fuel price rises in mid-August and intensified when soldiers fired over the heads of protesting monks, causing monasteries to mobilise.

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