UN aide to visit Myanmar, meet with new government

AP News
Posted: May 10, 2011 1:45 PM
UN aide to visit Myanmar, meet with new government

A top aide to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is making an official visit to Myanmar on Wednesday to meet members of the country's new elected government and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The visit by Vijay Nambiar, Ban's chief of staff and special adviser for Myanmar, will be the first by a top U.N. diplomat since a nominally civilian government took over from the ruling junta at the end of March.

In New York, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq announced that Nambiar would arrive Wednesday for a three-day visit at the invitation of the government.

Nambiar will hold meetings in the capital, Naypyitaw, and Yangon with the newly installed government, political parties, civil society organizations and other key individuals and groups as part of the secretary-general's "good offices mandate" to help the country move toward democracy.

Haq said he didn't have details of Nambiar's itinerary, but "I do know that he does look forward to meeting again with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and with members of the National League for Democracy."

A Yangon-based diplomat said Nambiar will meet Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the news, said the visit is part of the world body's continuing engagement with the Myanmar government and efforts to help with the country's national reconciliation process.

Critics of Myanmar government claim it is undemocratic, and last year's election was just a crooked charade to ensure continued military domination. Human rights groups say there are more than 2,000 political prisoners.

Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, said Nambiar would meet the Nobel laureate and her group's executives at her home Thursday. Until Suu Kyi's release from house arrest last year, such visits were conducted under the auspices of the former military government.

This will be Nambiar's second visit to Myanmar since he took over the position of special envoy from Ibrahim Gambari, who last visited in June 2009.

Nambiar met government officials and Suu Kyi during his November visit, after which Suu Kyi told reporters "one meeting is not enough" and she hoped for many and frequent meetings to sort out problems facing the country.

"Mr. Nambiar described his visit in November as a fact-finding visit," her colleague Nyan Win said Tuesday. "I hope the U.N. official will be able to step up his efforts toward national reconciliation during the upcoming visit," Nyan Win said.

The new government and Suu Kyi have had no contact since she was released in November last year though she has repeatedly called for reconciliation talks.

Myanmar's new government is headed by President Thein Sein, a former general and prime minister in the military regime. The junta disbanded and turned over power to the new nominally civilian government, whose Cabinet members are mostly former military figures.