Saturday, January 5, 2008

Myanmar issue must remain a priority -- EU envoy

Source: Agence France-Presse/PDI

UNITED NATIONS -- Efforts to promote democracy in Myanmar must remain a priority for the international community, European Union special envoy for Myanmar Piero Fassino said here Friday.
After talks with UN chief Ban Ki-moon and his envoy on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, Fassino said they found common ground, particularly on the need to enlist the support of all key Asian countries for diplomatic pressure to secure a political dialogue between the Myanmar regime and the opposition.
The Italian diplomat also highlighted the risk of having the Myanmar crisis eclipsed by emerging crises elsewhere, a reference to Pakistan and Kenya.
"This is a situation we want to avoid," he said. "We want to keep Myanmar at the top of the international community’s agenda ... Our common goal is unblocking a situation which today appears stalled."
Fassino, a former Italian justice minister who was appointed the EU special envoy on Myanmar last November, said he was coordinating his action with Ban and Gambari.
He added that one of the key objectives remained the release of Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as well as of all leading other political prisoners.
He said he planned to visit India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam over the next two months following a trip to China in December to drum up support for coordinated pressure on the ruling junta.
Meanwhile Gambari said he also planned to travel to New Delhi and Beijing shortly, ahead of a planned third visit to Myanmar since the bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protests in September and October.
During an Asian tour last month, Ban said the world body was losing patience in the face of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar.

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