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US Envoy in Burma to Meet Military Leaders

05 October 2007

The U.S. envoy in Rangoon, Shari Villarosa, is expected to meet with Burma's military leaders Friday after they invited her for talks in the country's administrative capital, Naypyidaw.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday that she would send a "very clear message" to the Burmese leaders to start a meaningful dialogue with democratic opposition groups, stop the violent crackdown on peaceful protests and encourage economic and political reforms.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council will hear testimony today from the U.N. envoy to Burma, despite China's insistence that last week's bloody crackdown in Rangoon was an internal matter for the country.

Ibrahim Gambari reported Thursday to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about his four-day trip, during which he met Burma's military ruler, General Than Shwe, and detained pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Ban said he could not call Gambari's trip a success.

Burma's state media reports that General Than Shwe told Gambari that he is willing to meet directly with Aung San Suu Kyi if she gives up her support for confrontation and sanctions against the government.

The media also report that authorities have arrested more than 2,000 people during the past week.

Some military officers are refusing to follow orders, and there are reports of dissension in the military's ranks. One former colonel told VOA in an interview in Bangkok he fled Burma because he could not follow orders to use violence.

Burmese officials say the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters left 10 people dead. Dissidents put the number of fatalities at 200.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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