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UN's Gambari Denied A Meeting with Suu Kyi, Not by Than Shwe But The Lady

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 25 -- While the UN couldn't quite bring itself to admit it on Monday, it seems clear that Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi rebuffed even accepting a visit from UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari during his six day visit that ended over the weekend.

   Given that she's still under house arrest, it's not that she was busy. It's that Gambari's visits have morphed from being a matter of possible hope into being part of the problem. As happens with the UN, its involvement creates the impression that something is being done, without oppression actually changing. From the transcript of Monday's UN noon briefing --

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe:  Matthew?

Inner City Press: Now that Ibrahim Gambari has left Myanmar, can it be answered one way or another whether he didn’t meet with Aung San Suu Kyi because she rebuffed him or because the Government didn't allow it?

Deputy Spokesperson:  It was Mr. Gambari's intention to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, as he did on all previous visits, and the Government made arrangements for such a meeting.  To his regret, the meeting did not take place.  We’re not going to speculate as to why she was not able to attend the meeting.  But Mr. Gambari did meet her party, the NLD [National League for Democracy] party, twice.  Mr. Gambari impressed on both the Government and the NLD the need for early resumption of dialogue, and made specific suggestions to that end.

Inner City Press: Thank you, that’s helpful.  If, as several NLD people say, she rebuffed him because she feels that the visits are no longer useful given the lack of movement on the Government’s side, what is the UN response to that critique?

Gambari with Ban Ki-moon: why don't we just pretend...

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, first of all, I just mentioned to you that we do not want to speculate at this time.  As you know, Mr. Gambari is in transit now, he is still completing his visit and he will be briefing the Secretary-General on the outcome of his visit.  And in terms of how we… What was the second part of your question?

Inner City Press:  Regardless of whether she met with, whether reason for not meeting with him was this, there is this critique out there that says that his visits are not accomplishing anything and so, I guess, does he feel that?  Did he accomplish something?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Mr. Gambari has told us that he has had extensive and open discussions with the Government and other interlocutors, which in itself is necessary in order to broaden and deepen the process as expected by the Secretary-General.  We have been saying all along that the Secretary-General’s good offices is a process, not an event.  One should not make a judgment on the process based on each individual visit.  The Secretary-General himself has made clear upon returning from his own visits that he expects his good offices to deepen and broaden through the continued engagement of his Special Adviser.

Inner City Press: Thanks, and this will be the last one, I mean at least for me.  Does the outcome of this visit make it more or less likely that Ban Ki-moon will go there in December, as Gambari was quoted by the NLD as having said?

Deputy Spokesperson:  The answer to that question, I think, I answered last week and that has not changed.  The Secretary-General has expressed his intention to go back when conditions are right.  As we said, the Secretary-General made clear that he expects his good offices to deepen and broaden through the continued engagement of his Adviser and that is also part of Mr. Gambari’s mission -- to prepare for any future visits by the Secretary-General. 

  While Ban would love to be seen as solving this Asian problem, the Lady's integrity is suddenly a wild card. What's next?

Watch this site. And this (on South Ossetia), this, on Russia-Georgia, and this --


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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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