Ban Ki-moon's Myanmar trip set

June 29, 2009 at 11:30 PM
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NEW YORK, June 29 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will press for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners on his visit to Myanmar, U.N. News said.

Ban's two-day trip to Myanmar, beginning Friday, comes in the wake of last weekend's visit to the military-ruled country by his special envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

Ban will "address directly with the senior leadership a broad range of issues, including longstanding concerns to the United Nations and to the international community," spokeswoman Michele Montas said. Ban last visited Myanmar, formerly called Burma, after the country was devastated by cyclone Nargis in May 2008.

Ban's arrival will coincide with the scheduled resumption of the trial of opposition leader Suu Kyi. The 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner -- who has spent 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest -- is accused of violating her detention rules.

Montas said Ban believes the political prisoners' issue, resumption of dialogue between the government and opposition for national reconciliation, and holding credible elections "cannot be left unaddressed at this juncture of the country's political process."

There has been an outpouring of sympathy and concern from around the world for Suu Kyi, whose trial has been condemned as an effort by the junta to prolong her detention and prevent her from participating in the general election set for next year.

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