Skip to comments.Myanmar foreign minister refuses to meet U.N. envoy
Posted on 07/26/2005 2:36:34 AM PDT by LwinAungSoe
The U.N. envoy leading reconciliation efforts in Myanmar said Tuesday that its foreign minister refused to see him while at a regional conference, in a snub to international efforts to bring democracy in the military-ruled country.
Envoy Razali Ismail had flown to Vientiane specifically to see Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win and persuade the junta to allow him to visit Myanmar and see pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest.
Razali said Nyan Win sent a message to him saying, "he would be too busy" with engagements at this week's meeting in the Laotian capital of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"They say they don't have the time" to meet, Razali said, minutes after checking out of his hotel to catch a flight out of Laos.
Razali, a Malaysian diplomat appointed special U.N. envoy to Myanmar in 2000, traveled several times to Myanmar to push for reconciliation between the hardline military junta and pro-democracy forces led by Suu Kyi. But he has not been allowed back into the country for more than a year.
He was not promised a meeting with Nyan Win in Vientiane, but the foreign minister's refusal was a breach of protocol. Razali had not previously been denied such meetings at international conferences.
Nyan Win's predecessor, Win Aung, made the time to see Razali in Vientiane during a November summit of ASEAN. But since then, Win Aung was removed in a purge in Myanmar that also ousted relatively moderate Prime Minister Khin Nyunt.
"Of course I am disappointed but what can I do," Razali said, adding that it doesn't look like he will be invited back to Myanmar soon.
The spotlight was on Myanmar during this week's ASEAN meeting, where the junta was expected to announce whether it will forgo the chairmanship of the bloc next year.
ASEAN has come under intense pressure from the United States to persuade Myanmar to free Suu Kyi and start democratic reforms, or else give up its turn to assume the rotating chair in July 2006.
East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, who recently was in Myanmar, said he told its leaders they should give up the ASEAN chairmanship and "concentrate on the daunting domestic challenges."
Ramos-Horta, attending ASEAN meetings as an observer, told reporters he did not want to reveal the junta leaders' response.
It is sad that Suu Kyi is still in detention, said Ramos-Horta. "But I was also saddened by the poverty and desolation of Myanmar and the lack of smiles in people's faces," he said.
The military junta in Myanmar seized power in 1988. It called elections in 1990 but refused to hand over office when Suu Kyi's party won overwhelmingly. Its has also attracted international criticism for jailing hundreds of political detainees and other alleged human rights abuses.