U.N.'s Ban to go to Myanmar "as soon as possible"
UNITED NATIONS |
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to visit Myanmar as soon as possible and will urge the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.
Ban said Suu Kyi was in good health and that U.N. officials in the country were closely monitoring her condition at the notorious Insein prison in Yangon.
"This is an unacceptable situation," he told CNN television in an interview aired on Thursday.
Ban said he was discussing the timing of his visit with the country's authorities.
"I'm going to visit Myanmar as soon as possible," he said.
"I'm deeply concerned about what has been happening in Myanmar in terms of democratization and I'm going to urge again the release of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi," he said.
U.N. diplomats say they expect Ban probably will not go to Myanmar before July.
The military junta that has ruled the Asian country since 1962 has put Suu Kyi on trial again, accusing her of breaking the terms of her house arrest because an American man swam to the lakeside home of the Nobel Peace laureate.
If found guilty, she could be jailed for up to five years.
Critics say the trial is scripted and aimed at silencing the charismatic leader of the National League for Democracy until after a multi-party election in the country formerly known as Burma in 2010.
Suu Kyi has been detained for more than 13 of the past 19 years, most of them at her home in Yangon, guarded by police, her mail intercepted and visitors restricted.
Ban visited Myanmar in May 2008 after the country was devastated by a cyclone, winning agreement from senior general Than Shwe to admit foreign aid workers. He has promised to return to discuss political issues but aides said he was reluctant to visit without assurance of a concrete result.
Separately, Western diplomats in New York said on condition of anonymity that the U.N. Security Council, which has so far been silent on the issue of Suu Kyi's latest trial, is negotiating a statement condemning her incarceration.
They said the U.S.-drafted statement would have the council deploring her new trial and demanding her release. But China, the nearest Myanmar has to a major ally, has objected to the wording and would like to soften it, the diplomats said.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; editing by Bill Trott)
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