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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 May 2006, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
UN official meets Burma's Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi. File photo
Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since May 2003
A senior United Nations official has met Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the first foreigner to see her since 2004.

Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari met Ms Suu Kyi, who has been in prison or under house arrest since 2003, for about an hour.

Mr Gambari said she appeared well and hoped she would be allowed to make "a contribution" to Burma.

The Nigerian envoy earlier met Burma's military leader Gen Than Shwe.

Mr Gambari delivered a message to the leader from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan but would not disclose its contents.

'Common ground'

The last foreigner to see Ms Suu Kyi was UN special envoy Razali Ismail in 2004.

She met Mr Gambari at his government guesthouse in Rangoon.

Ibrahim Gambari
Mr Gambari's is the first such UN visit to Burma for two years

Mr Gambari told Reuters news agency: "She is well, but of course she is still under restriction."

He added: "She feels she has a contribution to make and I hope she will be allowed to make it."

A spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said the meeting had raised optimism.

A diplomat who spoke to Mr Gambari told Reuters Gen Than Shwe had agreed to "try to find common ground with the NLD on political issues".

The diplomat said the general had also agreed to explore ways to improve aid and humanitarian missions to Burma.

The UN envoy arrived in Burma on Thursday and was expected to raise human rights issues and the restoration of democracy with the military regime.

It is the first time in two years that the country has allowed such a visit by the UN.

The NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990 but the military refused to hand over power and instead has kept Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest.

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