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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 August 2005, 23:38 GMT 00:38 UK
United Nations envoy visits Burma
Police in Burma
Burma's security forces keep a tight rein on dissent
A special envoy of the United Nations secretary general has met the foreign minister of Burma on the first of a three-day trip to the country.

Former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said he hoped to discuss reform of the UN during his visit.

He is due to meet Burmese leader General Than Shwe on Friday.

It is not clear if he will address the issue of political reconciliation in Burma, where pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest.

The country is ruled by a military junta which has been accused of gross human rights abuses.

Reform envoy

Mr Alatas is the highest-ranking UN envoy to visit Myanmar since Malaysian Razali Ismail came in March 2004.

He is one of a number of representatives appointed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to help to promote his plan for reform.

World leaders are due to meet at the UN headquarters in September to debate the most sweeping reforms of the organisation in its 60-year history.

"I come here as an envoy of the secretary general to discuss UN reform and have been visiting many countries in the Pacific," Mr Alatas said.

It was not clear if he would meet officials from Ms Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).

The NLD leader won the 1990 elections by a landslide, but was never allowed to take power.

She has been under house arrest since May 2003, and for two other stretches since 1989.

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