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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
UN envoy holds Burma talks
Aung San Suu Kyi speaking to supporters in 1997
Mr Razali wants Aung San Suu Kyi released
A United Nations special envoy has met Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an attempt to break years of political deadlock.


I think Razali will insist the [government] shows concrete progress

Asian diplomat
Razali Ismail, a retired Malaysian diplomat, is trying to negotiate an end to Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest, as part of reconciliation talks with the ruling military junta.

There were no details of his talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League of Democracy (NLD), which were held at her lakeside residence and lasted for two hours.

Earlier he met the junta's number three, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, the influential chief of military intelligence.

Neither Mr Razali or the Burmese Government made any official comment on those talks either.

But the UN envoy is reported to have told local businessmen afterwards that he had "a good meeting" with General Khin Nyunt.

A South-East Asian businessman told AP news agency that Mr Razali was optimistic of progress "in a few weeks".

Ongoing dialogue

This is Mr Razali's seventh visit to Burma since he initiated secret talks in October 2000.

On arriving in the country on Tuesday he said he was "always optimistic" and told representatives of Burma's ethnic minorities he hoped for progress in the dialogue between the pro-democracy leader and the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won 1990 elections by a landslide but the military junta refused to give up power.

The opposition leader has been under house arrest since September 2000 when she tried to take a trip outside the capital Rangoon. Rumours have been rife in diplomatic circles that the junta might be about to release her, perhaps during or shortly after Mr Razali's visit.

Crunch time

UN officials say Mr Razali's visit is a make-or-break trip because the international community is growing increasingly impatient at the lack of concrete results.

UN special envoy Razali Ismail
Mr Razali is on a four-day visit to Burma
But privately, UN officials have told the BBC that the prospects for a major breakthrough are dim.

The negotiations have so far resulted in the release of about 200 political prisoners, but have achieved little else. Mr Razali has hinted he might resign if he leaves the country empty-handed this time.

Diplomats say that only Aung San Suu Kyi's release can counter growing suspicion that the junta is using the negotiations as a means of ending the poverty-stricken country's isolation and lifting crippling sanctions.

"I think Razali will insist the [government] shows concrete progress," an Asian diplomat based in Rangoon told Reuters. "The easiest way to do it is to release Aung San Suu Kyi."

Mr Razali is also to meet Senior General Than Shwe, the leader of Burma's junta at some point during his four-day visit.

He will again meet Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday, party officials said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Larry Jagan
"It is hoped that Mr Razali's efforts will convince the Generals"
See also:

24 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Background to Burma talks
23 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma set for key UN talks
19 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Burma's secret talks
22 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's hollow gains
18 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
UN envoy's Burma trip is cancelled
18 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Behind Burma's 'non-coup'
30 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Aung San Suu Kyi meets Burma general
06 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma opposition denies 'power share'
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