UN envoy meets Myanmar’s junta leader

Yangon, August 19:

A UN envoy held a rare meeting with the reclusive leader of Myanmar’s military government today, but he said domestic politics and the release of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi were not discussed.

Senior General Than Shwe and former Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas met for about 90 minutes at the office of Prime Minister Soe Win in Yangon and discussed reforms at the United Nations, Alatas told reporters. Alatas said his latest trip was different to a 2003 visit when he was sent to discuss securing the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since May of that year.

“I come here this time as the special envoy of the secretary general on UN reform only, not as someone who is entrusted with the task of talking about the situation in Myanmar,” Alatas said. He said had an “intensive discussion” with Than Shwe, having met Foreign Minister Nyan Win yesterday. Alatas was due today to meet organisers of a national convention charged with drafting a new constitution as part of the junta’s “road map” to democracy. The EU, the US, the UN and human rights groups consider the national convention a sham because it has been boycotted by Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). Alatas was not scheduled to meet the NLD or any other opposition groups during his stay, a UN official in Yangon said.

An NLD spokesman said Alatas’s visit would do little to ease Myanmar’s political impasse. “Only a visit by Kofi Annan would help result the present political impasse,” U Lwin told AFP. Before leaving tomorrow, Alatas was also due to meet with government-backed social groups, the United Nations said.