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UN Envoy Says Burma Should be Offered Incentives

By VOA News
18 October 2007

The United Nations envoy to Burma says incentives should be offered to the country's military rulers in exchange for democratic reforms.

Speaking with reporters in Jakarta Thursday, Ibrahim Gambari suggested that international powers give Burma incentives to let it know that the world is not just there to punish its military rulers.

Gambari is in Jakarta Thursday as part an Asian tour aimed at increasing pressure on Burma's government after its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests last month.

Separately, the U.N. World Food Program said today that millions are going hungry in Burma despite its vast natural agricultural potential. WFP regional director Tony Banbury said officials estimate that five million people in Burma (roughly 10 percent of its population) are on the verge of starvation.

Banbury said efforts in Burma are being hampered by a lack of money and the government's repressive policies that limit the movement of food and people.

Despite growing international pressure, Burmese authorities continue to arrest protesters who participated in the rallies. On Wednesday, the government said it has arrested nearly three thousand people and that hundreds were still being held and interrogated.

However, friends of Burma's top comedian, Zaganar, and a leading actor, Kyaw Thu, say they were released Thursday after being detained for supporting the protests.

Ibrahim Gambari says that he will make his next trip to Burma around mid-November, or earlier, if possible.

Gambari hopes to meet with Burma's top military leader General Than Shwe and detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during the visit.

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